Some mornings when my family and I are rushing out of the house to get to camp, church, or a playdate, it’s all we can do to remember sunscreen, the other items we’ll need and still manage to get out the door in time. In fact, we often forget something small, be it the library book we were supposed to return on the way there or the grocery list we needed for on the way home. It is critical, however, that parents take their time when it comes to their children and cars, especially in these hot summer months.
On more than one occasion, I have put the mini-van in reverse to coast down the driveway only to hear one of my children yell, “Mom, my straps!” My children are now six and four, and both can buckle themselves into their booster seats, but I still turn and check to make sure they are ready before we pull away from the house. That said, once they became more self-sufficient – able to climb into their seats, able to put their arms under the straps –it became even more difficult for me to remember to check on them in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
Once children are safely in their car seats, they need to remain at the front of our minds for the duration of their time in the car. As my husband and I tell our children often, our number one job as parents is to be in charge of the safety of our children. Even so, 37 children die every year from the effects of hyperthermia after being left in hot vehicles. Please keep in mind the following as the summer heats up and we continue to live hectic lives running here and there in the car with our children:
– A child’s small body has the potential to warm three to five times faster than an adult’s much larger body.
– The inside temperature of a closed car will increase to 20 degrees hotter than the outside, daytime temperature in just 10 minutes. After 30 minutes that difference will be 24 degrees.
To prevent accidents involving hot cars this summer, remember these tips:
– Keeping vehicle doors locked, even while your car is parked in your driveway or garage, will prevent children from climbing into your car unsupervised.
– Make it clear to children that cars are not a safe place to play.
– Remind children that areas inside a car may be too hot to touch when they first climb in including seatbelt buckles and dark surfaces.
– Did your child leave his/her water in the car during the last trip? Liquids heat up in closed cars as well, so be sure to replace it with cooler water to prevent burned mouths.
– Don’t forget that the plastic on toys can become very hot while in the sun. Check your children’s car toys before they are allowed to play with them.
Learn more about tips to prevent hyperthermia in cars this summer by watching this video from General Motors and Safe Kids USA.