With summer weather in full swing, follow these tips to prevent child heatstroke in the car.
It’s unthinkable. Impossible. Leaving a child in a hot car in the summer months is something that happens to other people. It’s the kind of thing you hear on the news, and never think it could happen to your family.
With summer weather on the way, however, risk of children being injured or losing their lives to heatstroke is a very real danger. Fortunately, it is a danger that can easily be prevented.
Face the Facts
- An average of 37 children die from heatstroke in cars every year in the United States.
- 667 children have died of heatstroke in cars since 1998.
- The inside temperature of a car can raise 20°F every ten minutes, and can easily exceed 100°F in half an hour.
- Even on cloudy days, and even with car windows cracked, heat will still enter windows and heat up the cabin of a car.
- Extreme heat can raise the internal body heat of youngsters and lead to dehydration, dizziness and eventually death.
- The vast majority of child heatstroke fatalities occur when a parent or caretaker forgets that a child was in the car with them.
Look Before You Lock
Parents live in a hectic world – running errands, getting kids to school, birthday parties, soccer practice – so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If you’ve ever forgotten to bring snacks to soccer practice, you know that things can slip a busy parent’s mind.
That’s why the NHTSA’s “Look Before You Lock” campaign is a great resource for parents looking for advice on how to prevent heatstroke risk. While it seems impossible that a parent could forget their child in the backseat, stress and other factors can cause distractions that lead to dire consequences.
However, there are some easy tips for keeping this issue top of mind in your daily routine:
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
- Leave your purse or phone in the backseat with your child, so that you won’t get far without it.
The good news is that this situation is 100% preventable with simple awareness. The first step is admitting that it’s possible, and the second is taking a few extra seconds a day to think about it. Making a habit of checking backseats is the simplest and surest way to prevent such a tragedy in your own family.
Tools of the Trade
There are certain accessories that can help reduce the amount of heat that a child would experience in a car. For example, things like sun shades on the windows could reduce temperatures in a car. Another option is a car seat sun shield, which is made of heat-resistant reflective material designed to reflect sunlight and keep the car seat cool when left in a car. While these accessories alone will not prevent heatstroke, they will lower the risk of excessive temperatures in your child’s car seat while you’re on the go.