Never Leave Children in a Car
As summer temperatures peak across the country, it only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to children inside. Click here for a video on how quickly a car can heat up. While it seems unfathomable to many parents to forget a child inside a car, statistics show that since 1990 at least 717 children have died from heatstroke when left unattended or after gaining access to an unattended vehicle. Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, said about 52 percent of heatstroke deaths in cars are the result of a caregiver forgetting that a child is in the car, 30 percent involve children who got into a car on their own, and 17 percent occur because a child is intentionally left in a car.
Risks and Consequences
These tragedies can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone. Multitasking parents have their routines interrupted, forget something or reason the child is fine alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” SaferCar.gov offers these risks and consequences for parents to consider:
- In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees.
- Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
- With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
- A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
- Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
- A child dies when his or her body temperature reaches 107.
- The heat-related death of a child
- Misdemeanor charges with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states if convicted
- Felony charges, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car
- Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.
A-C-T to Prevent a Senseless Tragedy
- Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
- Create reminders by putting something on the backseat of your car next to your child, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone, that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. Put a stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as an additional reminder.
- Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations and want you to call. You could save a life.