Many of us are parents. We’re painfully familiar with the soccer mom routine. Rushing from errand to errand, sport to sport, store to store.
And getting babies and toddlers in and out of car seats can take a long time! Even loving and well-meaning parents might feel compelled to leave their precious ones strapped in the car seat in a locked car (especially if they’re asleep) and “run in and out of the grocery store for a quick two minutes.” But if it’s hot outside, even warm, that two-minute trip could turn deadly fast. And in the first seven months of 2016, it did for 19 children across the U.S – two in North Carolina.
The stories are beyond heartbreaking.
Recent Hot Car Deaths in North Carolina
Earlier this week a three-year-little girl was spotted unresponsive in a locked van in Durham. Efforts to revive her failed.
In May, an eight-month-old baby was found dead in the backseat of his mother’s car in Wilmington. WWAY Wilmington reported that when the mother went to the day-care center to pick him up, she realized she had never dropped off her child, but instead left him inside the car all day – in 86-degree heat.
How Hot Is Too Hot?
Those stories might lead you to believe it’s only extreme circumstances, like accidentally leaving the child in there all day, or high-temperature levels, that could turn deadly, but that’s not true.
A car can heat up 19 degrees every 10 minutes, according to a report by the Today Show. One heat-related death of a 13-month-old child occurred on a 52-degree day!
There are ways to prevent these tragedies. Here are some of them.
7 Ways You Can Help Prevent Deaths in Overheated Cars
- When debating whether or not to make that quick run into the store or office, a rule of thumb is: When in doubt, DON’T. No errand in the world is worth losing a life.
- Make a consistent effort to check your car when you get out. You never want to “forget” your child.
- Place an essential item such as a wallet, phone, badge, or even one of your shoes near the child when you enter your car. This could help you remember. Or if you do happen to forget, hopefully you will return for your belongings and discover the child.
- Leave your child at home if you can. Run errands and then return to pick up your child afterward.
- Make a schedule for your day, so you are not in any hurry and can make direct trips without stops.
- Lock the car at home and keep the keys out of reach so curious little ones don’t accidentally crawl in and get stuck there.
- If you see something, say something. Call 9-1-1 if you see a child – or an elderly man/woman, or a pet – locked in a car.
How to Rescue Someone From a Hot Car
Here is a very informative must-see video from Todays Show that shows exactly how to rescue a child (or a pet for that matter) out of a hot car. Spoiler alert. It’s not how you might think.
Signs of Heat Stroke
- Infants and toddlers are most at risk – 87%of children who have died in hot cars are under age three. And young children are likely to overheat almost twice as fast as adults. (The elderly are also at higher risk.)
- Heat stroke may occur when body temperature surpasses 104 degrees. Excessive brain temperature can cause such symptoms as:
- Hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid heart beat
- If the outside temperature is 90 degrees, temperatures inside a car can increase from 80 to 130 degrees in less than 10 to 15 minutes.
You Can Help Prevent Heat Stroke
We hope you learned as much as we did researching this blog. For more helpful tips on keeping your child safe in a car, please visit noheatstroke.org.