Every 10 days, an American child dies of heatstroke inside of a car. Those deaths are completely preventable and hardly represent the thousands of kids a year that are successfully rescued from hot cars by first responders and good Samaritans.
Some quick stats:
54% of the kids that die were accidentally forgotten in the car by the driver
29% were kids that climbed into the car on their own
17% of kids were intentionally left in the car by an adult…for just a few minutes
To date, 15 kids have died in 2016; one of the latest deaths occurred in Houston, Texas where the temperature registered at 96 degrees F in the shade and indexed over 100 F. A tragic death, but hardly shocking that a child in a hot car would die.
What may surprise many, though, is that the first hot car death this year occurred in January when the temperature was 52 degrees F.
A Georgia woman left her car running with the heat on “low” while her 13 month old grandchild slept. During that time the child’s core temperature exceeded 104 degrees. By the time medics arrived, there was nothing they could do.
REMEMBER: Heat stroke can occur when the body’s temperature passes 104 degrees F
Rule of Thumb
Whatever the outside temperature reads, add 35–40 degrees. That will be the temperature inside your car within 30 mins.
Researchers also discovered that cracking the windows does absolutely nothing to alleviate the heat buildup. And it’s not just children that are vulnerable to heat stroke; leaving pets in a hot car with the windows cracked is pretty much a death sentence.
Forgetting a sleeping child in the car can happen to anyone. Today’s parents and caregivers are exhausted, sleep-deprived, and going in a hundred different directions.
So, here are 5 judgement-free tips for preventing hot car deaths:
- Before driving to your destination, leave something important in the backseat — your purse, computer, briefcase, phone….whatever. This will get you in the habit of looking back there.
- Always lock the car doors (after checking the backseat). 30% of deaths result when kids sneak into cars without adult knowledge.
- Educate your child about not playing or hiding in cars. Kids as old as 14 have become drowsy, fallen asleep, and died by hiding in a car.
- Communicate planned absences to your daycare and establish a plan so that they call you if your child does not arrive on time.
- If you see a child alone in a car, call 911 immediately.