Parenting Tip of the Week – Kids and Hot Cars

As summer is upon us, remember to never leave a child (or pet!) in the car on a hot day. Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to heatstroke, and even with the windows cracked, temperatures inside a parked car on an 80 degree day can quickly climb to over 100 degrees.

Hot Cars and Kids Don’t Mix!

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Imagine, just for a second, that you’re a young mom or dad. Imagine that it’s a sweltering summer day and you’ve been out of the house since 9 AM trying to take care of chores and your honey-do list, and you brought your 18-month-old along with you. Imagine that you’re at the last store you need to get something from and are planning a quick stop to run in and grab that one last item before you can head home. Imagine that you’re shutting the car door and heading across the parking lot into the store, never even remembering that the child you adore, who has finally fallen asleep in their car-seat, is alone in the hot car.

This kind of story is one that happens more often than you think. Last July, the CEO of an Iowa Hospital left her daughter in a hot car for only fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, fifteen minutes was enough time for the effects of heatstroke to set in. And as much as we hope that this won’t happen again, statistics say that’s not the case.

According to Kids and Cars  more than 35 children die annually due to being left in a hot car. But because more than 87% of these deaths were completely accidental, whether due to the child getting in on their own or because a parent forgot about the child left in the hot car, we believe we can help prevent these situations from happening in the future.

Tips to Keep Kids Safe on Hot Days

So what can you do to help prevent this kind of situation? Here are a few suggestions to help you prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in your family.

  1. “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. Make a habit of looking even when traveling alone.
  2. 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.
  3. Always lock the doors, and keep keys and fobs out of reach. Make sure that your car doors are locked when you leave. Also, ensure that your keys and fobs are put them somewhere out of children’s reach. This can help prevent curious kids from getting in a car and getting locked inside.
  4. 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!
  5. If you see a child in car alone, call 911. Even on a 75 degree day, the inside of car can reach 100 degrees within ten minutes. Additionally, 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!

Parents and Caregivers have incredibly busy schedules. We understand that it is possible to forget about something that seems unforgettable. By following these tips you can help prevent this kind of situation from occurring to the children in your care.

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!