As temperatures rise throughout the summer months, so does the need for parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant about never leaving young children alone in a hot car. Since 1990, more than 1,000 children have died in these preventable tragedies.
BUT PLEASE, DO NOT STOP reading here because you believe you could NEVER unknowingly leave your child in a vehicle.
After working on this issue for over 20 years, I can assure you that the absolute worst mistake any parent or caregiver can make is to ‘think’ that this could never happen to them or someone they love. After experiencing the most unimaginable tragedy one could endure, the wonderful parent advocates that KidsAndCars.org works with (who are exactly like you) are the first ones to admit that they NEVER thought something like this could happen to them.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding how quickly young children can succumb to the heat in a vehicle.
Here are some quick facts that you need to know and can share with others.
- 87% of children who have died from vehicular heatstroke are age 3 and younger.
- A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.
- Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.
- Children have died in hot cars even when the outside temperature was as low as 52 degrees.
- 55% of children who died were left behind by loving, responsible parents
- 28% of children got into the cars on their own.
The heat in a parked car poses a major health threat to children and pets. Couple that with drivers overestimating the brain’s ability to multitask when suffering from lack of sleep, stress and the constant changes in their daily routine and all that adds up to a recipe for disaster. New technology must be added as quickly as possible on vehicles to help prevent these needless deaths and injuries.
There is currently a call to action to the federal government and auto industry to add simple, driver-reminder technology to vehicles that would alert a driver if a child is inadvertently left behind. Until life-saving advancements become available, KidsAndCars.org continues the “Look Before You Lock” educational campaign.
What should you do if you see a child alone in a vehicle?
Try to locate the driver or call 911 immediately if the child is in distress. If you feel this is a life or death situation, you should remove the child as quickly as possible from the vehicle. KidsAndCars.org offers a small tool called resqme™, which is an all-in-one seat belt cutter and window breaker that fits on a keychain. This handy little tool has the ability to break a window from the inside or outside in seconds.
Unknowingly leaving a child behind in a car can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is immune. The suffering these families experience is simply inconceivable; especially when they ignored the simply safety steps they honestly felt did not apply to them. Nobody thinks this could happen to them … until it does. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to take these simple safety precautions to make sure your child(ren) are safe.
Safety Tips from KidsAndCars.org
Remember the following “Look Before You Lock” safety tips from KidsAndCars.org:
Make sure children cannot get into a parked car:
This summer, and always, please help keep young lives safe by spreading the word to “Look Before You Lock.”
About Janette Fennell
Janette Fennell is the founder and president of KidsAndCars.org. Her dedication to preventing child injuries and death in and around motor vehicles has resulted in safer vehicles for all families. There are glow-in-the-dark trunk release mechanisms, safer power window switches, brake transmission shift interlocks and rear view cameras (by May 2018) as standard equipment on all U.S. vehicles due to her passion and hard work.