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Dangers of Hot Cars

Dangers of Hot Cars for Children

Hot car tragedies are largely misunderstood by the general public. Most parents are misinformed and believe that they could never lose awareness of their child in the back seat. The reality is that this happens to the most loving, caring and protective parents. It has happened to a teacher, dentist, social worker, police officer, nurse, clergyman, soldier, and even a rocket scientist.  It can happen to anyone…

Fatal Distraction  - MUST READ Pulitzer Prize winning article by Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post

Quick Facts:

  • 88% of children who have died in hot cars are age 3 and under
  • 56%of children who died in hot cars were unknowingly left and 26% got into a vehicle on their own
  • A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body
  • Greenhouse effect: the inside of a vehicle acts like a greenhouse and can reach deadly temperatures in minutes
  • Children have died in hot cars on days were the outside temperature was in the 50s and 60s – it doesn’t have to be hot outside for this to happen!

Contributing Factors for Children Unknowingly Left:

When the right set of circumstances align, this can literally happen to anyone.

  • Changes in the daily routine are a major factor in nearly every single case
  • Lack of sleep, stress, and fatigue can all cause our brain’s memory systems to function differently than normal and go into “auto-pilot” mode.
  • Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not.
  • Babies often fall asleep in car becoming quiet little passengers.

“Look Before You Lock” Safety Checklist

Create simple habits to help keep your child safe.

Make sure your child is never left alone in a car:

  • Make it a habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind.
  • To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat - employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.
  • Ask your child care provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
  • Clearly announce and confirm who is getting each child out of the vehicle. Miscommunication can lead to everyone thinking someone else removed the child.

Make sure children cannot get into a parked car:

  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.
  • Never leave car keys within reach of children.
  • Teach children to honk the horn if they become stuck inside a car.
  • If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area very carefully.
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