Think about the last time your routine was interrupted. Maybe you forgot something, or were afraid you might forget something. Or maybe you decided to leave your child alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” In either case, it’s important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars — especially hot cars.
- In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
- With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
- A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
- Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
- A child dies when his/her temperature reaches 107.
- The heat-related death of a child
- Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states
- Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car
- Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.
Prevention Tips to Avoid a Tragic Heatstroke
- Never leave a child alone in a car.
- Don’t let your kids play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
- Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
- Keep a large teddy bear or other stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s empty. Move the teddy bear to the front seat when you place the child in the seat as a visual reminder.
- If you are dropping your children off at childcare, but normally your spouse or partner drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure they were not left in the car.
- Become vigilant about looking in the vehicle before locking the door. Always look front and back before walking away — always!
Parents and Caregivers
If you see a young child locked in a parked car for more than 5 minutes:
- First make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
- If the child appears okay, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
- If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
- If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.
- If the child is in distress due to heat, get the child out of the car as quickly as possib5e. Cool the child rapidly (not in an ice bath) by spraying the child with cool water.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ACT
States have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved while helping a person in an emergency.
Safety Advocates and Professionals
Join NHTSA in tackling this important safety issue. Visit our Get Involved page for downloadable materials and assets for parents, caregivers, safety advocates and all those who want to help protect children from needlessly dying in hot cars.
Source: NHTSA. “Leaving Kids Alone in Hot Cars — Know the Risks and Consequences.” http://www.safercar.govwebsite. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heatstroke.htm
© Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented. Read more.