Hot cars + young kids = deadly duo

Published 6:28 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

GATESVILLE – School is out, meaning a carefree summer for the children of the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Summer also means many children will have the opportunity to travel….whether it be a simple trip to the grocery store or a family vacation. According to Gates County DSS Director Geoffrey C. Marett, summer fun is encouraged, but parents/adult relatives of young children need to be aware of the dangers of leaving children unattended inside a hot vehicle.

Marett, in association with Safe Kids of North Carolina, is promoting awareness to never leave a child alone in a car – even briefly. The inside temperature in a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and 30 degrees in just 20 minutes. Cracking a window has little to no effect.

“Simple strategies, such as always putting a purse or cellphone in the back seat, can help the driver remember to get the child even when regular routines are broken,” Marett said.

Children are also very susceptible to drive the cars when keys are left in the ignition or when the car is left running when the operator of the car has momentarily left the vehicle.  These can be very dangerous situations that have occurred across the country.

“We strongly encourage all adults to remove their children from their vehicles anytime they exit their vehicle,” Marett said. “With the capability of a car’s temperature to rise quickly coupled with the fact that children’s body temperatures rise rapidly make children extremely vulnerable to effects of the heat when left inside cars even on what many people consider mild days.

“The fact that a car’s temperature can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 30 degrees in 20 minutes is unknown to the majority of the population,” he continued. “We want to ensure that all adults remove their children from their vehicles anytime they exit their vehicle regardless of their age or the amount of time they will be away from the vehicle.  If you see this occurring please immediately call 911.”

According to Safe Kids North Carolina:

Did you ever realize your car is like an oven? Try it out—at Safe Kids North Carolina, we like to show parents, caregivers and children how easy it is to cook a s’more in the backseat of a car.

On average, 35 to 40 children across the country die from heat exposure in vehicles each year.

A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s; even a few minutes of heat exposure can be dangerous for a child.

With its soaring temperatures, July is historically the deadliest month for child fatalities in hot cars. But hyperthermia can occur even on days with mild 70 degree temperatures.

Some of these deaths occur when a parent accidentally forgets a child in a car; some occur when a parent intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle. In other cases, a child was playing in an unattended vehicle when overtaken by heat.

Sadly, these deaths can be prevented.

Follow these safety tips from Safe Kids North Carolina:

Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.

Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.

Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.

Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.

Make an agreement with your child’s school or day that you will be notified If your child is not dropped off at the normal time.

If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.

Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.

S’more dangerous than you think… NEVER leave your child alone in a car!

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal