Did you know that a car can heat up 19 degrees in only 10 minutes? Cracking your windows doesn’t help (1). As temperatures begin to rise here in Tennessee, we want parents and caregivers to be mindful of how dangerous hot cars can be. On average, every 10 days a child dies of heatstroke after being left alone in a hot car. Nearly half of those deaths occur when a child is forgotten (1).
Here’s what we suggest:
- ACT (1)
- Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute and keep your car locked to avoid the risk of children getting inside the car on their own.
- Create reminders. Put something in the front seat like a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the back seat. Or put something that you must have when you arrive like a briefcase, phone, or badge for work in the back seat with your child, so you don’t forget.
- Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations. They want you to seek help for that child immediately.
- Don’t leave your keys where they are accessible to children, and teach children that cars, and especially trunks are not safe places to play or hide (2).
- Look before you lock. Make it a habit to check your front and back seats each time you leave your car to make sure you don’t forget anything including your child (2).
- Be overly cautious when there is a change in your routine (2). If someone else must transport your child, call them to ensure they got there and got your child into the location safely. Have your childcare provider contact you if your child is more than 10 minutes late to ask where your child is. Put precautions in place so that there are safeguards if a change in routine makes you or another caregiver more forgetful than usual.
Hot car deaths are the most dangerous risk to the children in cars with the rising temperatures, but they aren’t the only risk.
Please consider that your child’s car seat is in your car getting hotter by the minute while it is parked. Both plastic and metal pieces on the car seat are likely to become very hot to the touch and have the potential to burn your child if they become hot enough. Most of the time car window tint won’t do the trick either. To keep your child’s seat belt or car seat from getting hot enough to injury them follow these tips:
- Park in the shade when possible.
- Try to keep the car seat out of direct sunlight when parked.
- Cover the seat and buckles with a towel or blanket.
- Use foldable or retractable car shades that come off and store securely away when you drive to block sunlight when you are parked.
What we do not recommend are suction cup window clings, clip on shades or fans because these objects become projectiles in a crash. Remember that whatever you use to cover your car seat or block your windows from direct sunlight when you park, should come down and be securely put away while you drive.
Warmer weather means summer fun for most families. Take extra steps to make sure that the heat doesn’t mean injury or death for your child when it comes to your car.