Many experts communicate common safety measures, like using car seats correctly and basic childproofing, however there are many less known 'hidden dangers' that may put your kids at risk.
Your family car is one of these 'hidden dangers,' and it is not just because of car accidents. In addition to the risk of getting hit or run over by a car, being left or getting trapped in a hot car can be just as deadly a danger. Each year, an average of 37 kids die after being left in a hot car - sometimes on relatively mild days with only 70 degree temperatures. Situations in which kids get hurt in hot cars include when:
• Infants and toddlers are simply forgotten in their car seat
• Toddlers or preschoolers sneak into the car to play and can't get out
• Kids get trapped in the trunk
What's the danger?
In addition to the risk of being abducted if they are left alone in a car, on a relatively mild summer day, the temperature inside a car (even with the windows rolled down a little) can quickly rise above 120 to 140 degrees. At those temperatures, kids are at great risk for heat stroke, which can lead to a high fever, dehydration, seizures, stroke and death.
Kids in Cool Cars
The danger of being left alone isn't limited to kids getting overheated. Simply leaving the car running and the air conditioning on doesn't make your child any safer, even if it is just for a few minutes. Your child might be abducted, put the car into drive, or even get caught in a closing power window. So use the drive-through if it is available or take your kids inside, even if you will just be a few minutes. Don't leave your kids alone in the car. It just isn't safe and it is actually against the law in many states.
How can you keep your family members safe?
• Don't leave kids, older adults or pets, in a car unattended
• Always lock your car and secure the keys so that your kids can't get to them
• Warn your kids about playing in the car by themselves without adult supervision
• Install a trunk release mechanism, so that they can't get trapped in the trunk
• Get your kids out of the car first, and then worry about getting the groceries, etc., out of the car when you get home
• If you are afraid that you might leave your sleeping infant or toddler in their car seat when you get out of the car, place a reminder on the dashboard
If you see a child alone in a car, be sure to call 9-1-1.