The summer months are full of on-the-go fun activities, and families spend a lot of time together in the car. It is vitally important that parents be diligent about car safety for themselves and their kids (and pets). Vehicles should be up to date on regular maintenance to avoid breakdowns on the road. Adults should buckle seat belts each and every time they drive or ride. Kids should ride in properly installed age and size appropriate car seats or belt-positioning boosters, such as products by Britax. And especially in the summer months, it is crucial that kids and pets not be left in vehicles.
Kids and Hot Cars: The Tragic Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly for children and pets. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s.
On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Nearly every state has experienced one such death since 1998. Sadly, as of July 1, we have lost 9 children already this year.
According to Kids & Car Safety National Database there are different reasons why children are left in vehicles:
- 56% were unknowingly left in vehicles
- 26% gained access to vehicles on their own
- 15% were knowingly left in vehicles
- 3% of the circumstances were unknown
These facts and statistics are staggering. But the good news is ALL types of vehicular heatstroke deaths are preventable!
Preventing Hot Car Tragedies
In the summer, so much of parenting revolves around keeping our children safe. We watch them like hawks in the swimming pool. We lather them with sunscreen. We ensure that their caregivers are trustworthy. In addition to all this, parents should take every precaution to prevent a child from being accidentally or intentionally left in a hot car. Some guidelines to follow include:
- NEVER leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. It might be tempting to leave them buckled in a carseat while you run in store for a quick errand, but the risk just isn’t worth it.
- When you are at home, or any time you are not getting in or out of a vehicle, keep your car doors and trunks locked. Young children are curious, and may climb in a car or trunk thinking they are just playing. But if they lock themselves in or don’t know how to get out, the consequences could be tragic.
- While driving with children, after you buckle them in their carseat or booster, place your phone, purse or wallet in your child’s diaper bag in the back seat with them. When you arrive at your destination and retrieve your item, you won’t be distracted and forget a child is in the backseat.
- Take action and call 911 if you see a child alone in a car.
No one wants to believe that they could be a parent who gets distracted and leaves their child in a hot car. But it does happen, even to the most loving parents. This summer, be mindful of car safety every day and help prevent hot car tragedies.