You’ve just got your child strapped into the car seat with considerable struggle….and you’ve forgot your phone inside. Or your baby is asleep as you pull into the driveway after a long day….and you just want to bring the groceries into the house with two free hands.
It seems harmless but habits like these can open you up to disaster. As a strict rule, never leave your child in a car unattended.
In the first week of August, eight children died in hot cars in the U.S. Most of the time, it is unintentional like when your schedule is disrupted (switching daycare drop off). More than half of the 38 U.S. children who die on average each year in hot cars aren’t intentionally left behind according to a study by San Francisco State University. They are forgotten.
On a mild 80-degree day (even a cloudy one), the temperature inside a closed car can reach life-threatening levels in as little as 10 minutes. Metal is a conductor of heat and the sun radiates off inside elements through the glass. Cracking window doesn’t help–it is a ventilation issue.
A child’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. Cooling of the body becomes increasingly difficult as temperatures rise above normal skin temperature. In addition, infants and children sweat less than adults—the body’s main way of getting rid of heat. (Also, if sweat doesn’t evaporate off the skin, it doesn’t cool the body) Another reason children are especially at risk when it comes to heat is because they may drink less and can become dehydrated more easily.
In addition to the tips I offer in the video below—to treat your car like you would a bath or pool, to put your cell phone in the backseat and to place your child’s toy in the front seat—here are some additional items implement and share with others:
- If your child is in a rearfacing, seat, make sure to have a mirror installed on the back so you can see him.
- Walk around the rear of your car to get to your destination—look in the back as you go pass by.
- Set up an alert on your phone—or a reoccurring meeting around when you drop off that simply says “Daycare?”
- Make it clear to babysitters and caretakers that it is never OK to leave a child in the car unattended—not even for a minute. Check in.
- Look out for other cars—call 911 if you see an infant or child in a car alone.
- Lock unattended vehicle doors and trunks.