Parenting Tip of the Week – Preventing Heatstroke in Hot Cars

Now that we’re into mid-June, kids are home from school, temperatures are rising across the country, and most families are thinking of fun ways to spend time in the summer. One thing families should also be thinking about is keeping kids safe from heatstroke and hot cars.

Hot cars are dangerous, so remember to never leave a child (or pet!) in the car on a hot day. On an 80 degree day, temperatures inside a parked car climb to over 100 degrees in fifteen minutes, even with the windows cracked. Parents of young children should be especially careful as infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to heatstroke.

And while many may comment and say that there is no need for a reminder such as this, unfortunately, these stories happen more often than you might think. This month, the National Safety Council released a report showing that 47 children died from hot car exposure in 2017, an increase from the reported 39 children in 2016.

Preventing Heatstroke

Many of these cases have similar details. In some a car was accidentally left unlocked in a driveway and a child climbed inside to play hide-and-seek. In others a parent thought that they would just be inside the store for a few minutes. These cases all share another similarity though: they can be prevented. As a parent, what can you do to help prevent this kind of situation from happening in your own family? Here are five suggestions to add to your routine to help you prevent a similar tragedy from occurring for your own family.

  1. Always lock the doors, and keep keys and fobs out of reach – Make sure that your car doors are locked and that your keys and fobs are put them somewhere that children can’t get to them. This can help prevent curious kids from getting in a car and getting locked inside.
  2. Take your child inside to the store with you, even if it’s just a quick trip and even if it isn’t a hot day. This can help build up the routine to help keep you from forgetting. We know it can be stressful shopping with children, though, and so we’ve created some tips to make that feel easier too!
  3. “Look when you lock.” – Open the rear door of your car or turn around in your seat to look behind you just to make sure everyone is out of the car before you lock. Try to make a habit of doing this even when traveling alone (and it could always help you to remember your purse, sunglasses, or something else, too!)
  4. Keep something necessary for shopping or work in the back seat. Put your purse or wallet on the seat next to your car-seat. This gives you another reason to turn around and look back, helping to build up the habit of looking even on routine days where your child isn’t in your care.
  5. If you see a child in car alone, call 911Even on a 75 degree day, the inside of car can reach 100 degrees within ten minutes, and a child’s body can overheat 3 to 5 times faster than an adult. If you see a child left in a car alone, call 911 for assistance. It’s far better to be safe than sorry!

By following these tips, you can help prevent heatstroke and avoidable accidents that have lifelong consequences. For more information, visit Safe Kids Worldwide’s “Take Action to Prevent Heatstroke” landing page.

Do you have other ideas to help prevent heatstroke in children? Let us know by tweeting us @PCAAmerica or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page!