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Leaving kids in a hot car can be dangerous, deadly

Posted at 8:24 AM, Jun 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-20 08:26:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Stepping outside in stifling heat can make anyone uncomfortable.  But imagine being confined to a car for even a few minutes in extreme heat.  This can quickly turn dangerous and even deadly, especially for children.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one child dies nearly every 10 days from being left inside a hot vehicle.  The NHTSA also reports, a heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children age 14 and under.

As we enter into summer you want to remember as the temperatures rise, so does the risk of a child being seriously injured from being inside a dangerously hot car.  Experts say a child's body temperature can rise faster than an adults.

"Children actually absorb the heat a lot quicker than adults, many times three to five times faster than an adult," said Windy VanCuren with AAA.  "And unfortunately they can not release the heat as quickly as an adult through sweating mechanisms.  So it's extremely dangerous for those children."

Prevention Tips:

  • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle.  Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • "Look Before you Leave."  Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
  • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach.  If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible.  Cool the child rapidly.  Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
    • Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
    • Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
    • Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.

    For more information on the dangers of extreme heat, click here.