Prevent a Midsummer’s Day Nightmare
Summer is really turning up the heat in many areas and such high temperatures can put us in potentially hazardous situations just from doing our everyday activities. Heat illness and heatstroke are life-threatening conditions that can affect anyone exposed to excessive heat. Did you know that a child’s body temperature rises much more quickly than adults? This makes them more susceptible to hyperthermia and serious health consequences. An average of 37 children die each year because they were left inside a hot car. There are important steps we can take to prevent these tragedies.
Children can become heatstroke victims in a closed car during the summer within a very few minutes. If the outside temperature is in the low 90s, the interior of a closed vehicle can reach 110 degrees after only ten minutes and 125 degrees after 30 minutes. However, even moderate temperatures in the 60s can be nearly as dangerous, because the passenger compartment can still rise to more than 100 degrees in just 30 minutes.
Preventing hot car deaths relies on developing careful habits, avoiding distractions and common sense. Whether we are parents or not, we all have a role in protecting kids from these dangers:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time. Don’t dash in for a quick errand, don’t unload the groceries, don’t go to the mailbox; get the child out of the car.
- Always keep vehicles locked when parked to prevent children from getting in on their own. Hot car deaths have occurred because a child got into an unlocked car to play and was overcome by heat before they could get out.
- Because it is safer for children to ride in the back seat, it can be an unintended consequence that they become “out of sight, out of mind.” Make it a habit to always look in the back seats when you lock your vehicle and be sure no child is left behind.
- More than half of hot car death incidents are a result of simple forgetfulness. When you buckle up your child in the back seat, put your purse, briefcase or similar essential item back there with them. It’s also wise to put a child reminder item with you in the front seat – a diaper bag or stuffed animal, for example.
- Stay vigilant when you have a change in routine, feel like you’re running behind, or are confronted by distractions. Keep the welfare of the child in your car your top priority.
- If you see a child alone in a car and don’t see the driver immediately return, take action. If you can’t open the doors, call 911 to summon assistance. If the child is in distress or unresponsive, break a side window to open the car and get the child out where first aid can be given.
As we’ve said many times in respect to the various risks our children face, taking care of their well-being is everyone’s responsibility. Awareness and common sense preparation to protect kids from the dangers of hot cars is another way you can make a difference.
About Eric Preston
Eric Preston is Vice President, Loss Control Services at Keenan. He leads a statewide team of specialists assisting clients with services to reduce hazards, and improve property & casualty loss experience.