Kids in hot cars: preventing tragedy

Kids in hot cars: preventing tragedy

We’re approaching one of the hottest Texas summers in many years. With the heat comes the yearly warnings to not leave children in hot cars—warnings that many dismiss by thinking it could never happen to me.

Each year, an average of 37 children nationwide die after being left in hot cars. They are often left by parents or caregivers. On a 95-degree day, a car’s interior temperature can rise 20 degrees in just ten minutes. Heat injuries and death occur “when a child’s core body temperature rises above 104 degrees and stays there,” notes Jennifer Vanos, a researcher on the subject.

It’s been well over 95 degrees many days already this summer in Dallas, which means that forgetting a child in a car for even a few minutes can cause harm.

Sometimes well-meaning people dismiss these warnings because they believe they are immune to such an occurrence. But we must heed the reality: in the last 20 years, the rate of deaths due to hot cars has increased, and even otherwise diligent individuals can get caught up in a routine and forget. From dentists to rocket scientists, rich to poor, and from students to nurses, the risk crosses demographics—it really can happen to anyone.

Whether or not you think it could happen to you, please consider the following safety tips:

  1. Don’t leave kids in the car alone. Not in the shade or with the A/C on. Not even for a minute.
  2. Be cautious with routine changes and distractions. So many times, routine disruptions are the cause of forgetting. The brain goes on auto-pilot and you forget it was your turn to drop off the baby at daycare.
  3. Put something of yours in the backseat and a child’s item in the front passenger seat. Try the shoe trick—leave one of your shoes in the backseat so you’ll have to retrieve it before walking away.
  4. Keep the car locked when no one is in it. Teach your children never to play in cars. Make sure your vehicle isn’t an option in a game of hide-and-seek.
  5. Over-communicate. Your child is worth it. Make sure your babysitter or daycare center knows to check in with you if you don’t show up one day—and that they know not to give up until they reach you. Talk to your family and friends before they take your child anywhere.   
  6. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you see a child alone in a car. Don’t hesitate. Every second counts.






Image via Pixabay.