Heatstroke continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable deaths among children with infants and toddlers being the most affected. 87 percent of children have suffered hot car deaths before the age of 3. It is worth noting that even the most careful parents or caregivers can forget their children in the car. Other risk factors are people who aren’t used to a particular job or whose schedule changes suddenly.
Everybody, from parents to concerned bystanders, can help prevent child in hot car deaths. It is extremely important to appreciate the fact that children are at higher risk of having a heatstroke than adults.
Heatstroke can strike fast
Heatstroke occurs when the body is no longer able to cool itself. In the end, the body’s internal temperature reaches around 104 degrees, which is too high for the body organs to continue functioning properly. Heatstroke can cause brain damage and even death. Given that the child’s body temperature rises faster than that of an adult, that the temperature in a vehicle can increase by up to 20 degrees within just ten minutes and that a child can suddenly die once the temperature reaches around 107 degrees, it is easy to see how forgetfulness can lead to these horrible situations.
Experts believe that overtired parents and caregivers are most likely to forget the children under their care. Many parents think they have already dropped their children off at home or at daycare only to realize later that they are still in their car. In other cases, parents don’t notice their children climbed into their car.
Follow these 7 important tips to prevent hot car deaths:
1. Look twice before you lock your vehicle
The “Look Before You Lock” campaign encourages parents and caregivers to double-check cars, business and vans for kids who might have been left behind. Check in the back seat to ensure that no one is left in the car (even if you don’t have a child with you). Make sure all children have left the car after parking.
2. Leave something you’ll need in the backseat
Another tip is to put something you’ll need, say a mobile phone, handbag or suitcase, near your child. This will help you remember your child before you get out of your car.
3. Travel with a fuzzy friend
Place a stuffed animal in the front car seat. When the child is in the backseat, the fuzzy friend rides shotgun. The fuzzy friend serves as a reminder that the child is in the back seat.
4. Always lock your doors
Even when the vehicle is in your garage, remember to keep your doors locked. This will help prevent curious kids from climbing into the car.
5. Keep the fobs and keys away
Children might plays with your keys and unknowingly be able to open the car without your knowledge. To avoid this scenario, keep the fobs and keys away at all times.
6. Have a plan with your childcare giver.
If your baby does not turn up at school without notice, the caregiver should call to find the whereabouts of the child.
7. Prevent children from playing in the car
Don’t allow kids to play in your vehicle. Make sure that the trunk and doors are properly locked whenever you are not utilizing it. This can help prevent kids from getting locked in the vehicle.
8. If you are a bystander, get involved
If you spot a baby alone in a hot car, call 911 right away, recommends The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In case the child is in distress because of excessive heat, get him out as fast as possible, advises the NHTSA.
Unfortunately, certain child carriers feature hoods, which make it impossible to tell whether there is a child in the backseat. Experts recommend developing high-tech safety alert systems that will produce sounds when a child’s seat belt is left fixed firmly when the car door is locked.
Health communicators can be greatly helpful when it comes to preventing hot car deaths among children. Educating the public about the dangers of leaving their children in the cars and how to prevent possible injuries and deaths is highly recommended. Don’t forget the heatstroke can occur even when you think the temperature is extremely low outside. There is absolutely no time when it is all right to leave a child alone in a vehicle.