Today, May 1, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. So far in 2021, we have had only 1 death due to heatstroke in a vehicle: a 5 month old girl was left in a vehicle where the outside temperature was 70. In the first 10 minutes a vehicle has been sitting in the sun, the temperature inside rises about 19°. After 20 minutes, it has risen about 29°. Before long, the inside temperature can be well above 140° depending on the outside air temperature. Cracking a window doesn’t matter: the sun’s rays heat the interior fixtures of the vehicle: the dash, steering wheel, seats, etc., which cause the air molecules to heat up. It’s science we all learned in grade school but have probably long forgotten. Hyperthermia, or high body temperature, occurs when the body’s temperature goes over 104°. A temperature over 107° can be deadly and it happens very quickly with children, whose bodies heat up faster than adults’.
In 2020, we had a record-low year for heatstroke deaths due to the pandemic and parents logging fewer miles with their children. However, a much larger percentage of the 24 deaths on record were from gaining access to the vehicle, rather than being forgotten in it. Taking simple steps like always locking the car and keeping the keys out of the reach of children can keep this kind of tragedy from happening.
Here are 10 easy things you can do to keep your child safe:
- If your child is missing, check your pool first, then your vehicle (including the trunk!)—check neighbor’s pools and vehicles second
- Arrange to have your childcare provider contact you when your child doesn’t show up that day. Make sure they have multiple contact numbers to call/text and that they keep calling until they reach a live person.
- Keep all vehicles LOCKED at all times, even when they are in the garage and keep your keys/key fobs out of reach
- Keep your wallet AND cell phone in the back seat when you are driving
- Another option, put one shoe in the back seat when you are driving—you’re not going to walk away from your vehicle without your other shoe!
- Make it a habit to always look in the back seat when getting out of the car
- Teach your children that it’s NEVER okay to play in the car or to go into the car to get something without a grown-up
- Teach your children NEVER to hide in the car or inside the trunk
- However, also teach your children to blow the horn repeatedly to attract attention if they are ever trapped inside a vehicle
- Please don’t forget pets—if it’s too hot for baby in the car, it’s too hot for your pet
If you’d like to read more, here are some links: