By Chuck Mai, AAA
Summer officially begins June 20 and with it: more heat and the not-so-infrequent stories of kids and animals being left alone in hot cars with sometimes deadly consequences.
Heat related fatalities were the second highest cause of death among all weather-related deaths, second only to tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. And according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14. NHTSA reports at least 27 documented deaths per year.
It’s important to remember that temperatures inside a car on a day with outside temperatures in the mid-to-high 90’s can quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees, which is hot enough to cook many foods and to kill most living things. Never leave children or pets in a parked car. If you do see a child or pet locked in a car and cannot find the owner of the vehicle, call 911 immediately.
Child passenger summer safety tips:
• Never leave a child alone in a car – even with the windows partially opened– as a vehicle’s interior can still heat up quickly to deadly temperatures.
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away. Children have died because they fell asleep in their car seats and their parents didn’t realize they were still in the car.
• If your spouse or a guardian is taking your children to day care, ask him or her to call you to make sure the drop-off went according to plan.
• Do things to remind you that a child is in the vehicle:
• Leave a written note in your vehicle where you will see it
• Place your purse, briefcase or something else in the back seat to remind you to check that area when you leave the vehicle.
• Keep an object in your child’s car seat, such as a stuffed toy, as a reminder that a child is in the back seat.
• Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle – teach them that a car is not a play area; always lock your car doors and keep car keys out of children’s reach.
• If a child has spent a prolonged amount of time in a hot vehicle and appears to be showing signs of heat distress, call 911 immediately for medical assistance. Cool the child as quickly as possible by applying cool water to the skin and/or ice packs under the armpits and groin area while waiting for help.