Every year dozens of children die from hyperthermia when they are accidentally left in vehicles. These parents beleved it could happen to them, but we can all make mistakes whe we're distracted, tired, or have a change in routine.
Hyperthermia occurs when the body’s thermostat is overloaded by heat. It can happen to all ages, but young children are at the greatest risk because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults. The temperature in a parked car can increase 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and can reach 10-180 degrees in 60 minutes, even with the windows cracked open. A child left in a hot car can experience heat stroke, dehydration, shock, cardiac arrest, and even death.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Do not let children play in an unattended car.
- Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even with windows partially open.
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
- If a child is missing, check the vehicle – including the trunk.
- If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If the child is in distress, get him or her out as quickly as possible and cool the child rapidly while waiting for help to arrive.
TIPS to help busy caregivers keep restrained infants and children first and foremost in their minds:
- Place your purse, brief case or something else you need in the back seat so you will have go into the backseat before walking away from the vehicle.
- Write yourself a colorful note and post it on the dashboard of your vehicle.
- Always keep a large object in the car seat when not occupied by the child, but move the object to the front seat to remind caregiver a child is in the car seat.
- Ask child care providers to contact you immediately if your child does not arrive at expected time.
- Set an automatic reminder on your smart phone or office email to verify you child has been dropped off at child care.
- If you are dropping your child at child care, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan (especially if there’s a change in routine).
I am the Community Policing Specialist at the Euclid Police Department.