When the mercury rises in the thermometer, keep in mind that the interior of a vehicle can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.
While leaving a child in the car while the parent or caregiver rushes to a store for a quick errand can be tempting, it can be a fatal mistake.
It’s amazing how quickly the temperature can rise in a parked car, even with cracked windows. With an outside temperature of 80 degrees, the interior of a vehicle can reach lethal temperatures of 125 degrees within an hour. At outside temperatures of 93 degrees, the inside temperature of the vehicle can rise to 125 degrees within a few minutes. The temperature can rise quickly even with the windows down.
Because of their smaller size, a young child’s core body temperature can rise three to five times faster than that of an adult. Exposing children to extreme heat can result in permanent injury or death. Heat can quickly overwhelm your tiny body and impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
With the hectic lifestyle most families live today, it can be easy to get distracted and forget that a child is in the car. However, distraction can lead to the death of a child. When you get home from work or running errands, make sure all the kids are out of the car. No way, no matter how tempting it is, you shouldn’t leave a sleeping child in the car. Get the children out of the vehicle before unloading food or other items.
To avoid heat-related car deaths and injuries, follow these suggestions from Safe Kids USA:
Never leave a child unattended in the car, even with the windows open.
Teach children not to play in or around cars.
Always lock car doors and trunks, including at home, and keep keys and remote controls out of the reach of children.
Pay particular attention to children in the vicinity of cars when loading and unloading.
Pay attention to child-proof locks. Teach older children how to deactivate the driver’s door locks if they are accidentally trapped in a vehicle.
Make sure all children get off the vehicle when you reach your destination.
Don’t overlook sleeping babies or toddlers. Get in the habit of checking the rear seats. As a reminder, place a piece of paper, a sign or an object near the driver’s seat or place something that you will need at your next stop – for example a handbag, your lunch, your gym bag or your briefcase – on the floor of the back seat on which the child is sitting. This simple act can help ensure that you do not accidentally forget a child.
Be especially careful when placing infants or children in day care that is not part of your normal routine. Let your child care worker contact you if your child does not show up on a day that is expected.
Also, check the temperature of the car seat surface and seat belt buckles before restraining children in the car. These can easily cause skin burns. Use a light cover to shade the seat of a parked car.
If a child is left in a hot car for a dangerously long time, the first thing to do is call 911 for help. Take the child out of the car and give them cold water when they are vigilant. If he is not breathing or has no pulse, perform CPR until emergency assistance arrives. The heat in Oklahoma can be extreme, so it is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the potential dangers a child can face if left unattended in a vehicle.
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