With summer temperatures now in the triple digits, it’s a good time to be reminded of the dangers of children getting heat stroke while left unattended in vehicles, says a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service passenger safety expert.
Bev Kellner, AgriLife Extension family and community health program manager in College Station, says it’s important to remember that as temperatures increase so does the likelihood of heat stroke and death for children AND pets left in hot vehicles.
According to Kellner, temperatures in parked vehicles rise very quickly and a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, so the combination can be deadly, and children are far more vulnerable to heat stroke than adults.
She also went on to say that in just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by almost 20 degrees, and contrary to popular belief, cracking a window does little or nothing to dispel the heat from the interior of the vehicle.
Kellner stated that Texas leads the nation in child vehicular heat deaths, with 114 deaths from 1989 to 2017.
Kellner said to help avoid child vehicular heat deaths, parents and other caregivers should consider the following tips from Safe Kids and AgriLife Extension:
— Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
— Make a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away.
— When parking a multi-passenger vehicle, make sure there are no children sleeping on the seats or hiding under them.
— Put a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cellphone or another item that will be needed in the back seat to help ensure you look there before leaving the vehicle.
— Set the alarm on your cellphone or computer calendar as a reminder to verify you have not left a child unattended in your vehicle.
— If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, dial 911 immediately and follow any instructions provided by emergency personnel.
— Teach children not to play in and around vehicles.
— Always lock vehicles, even when in the garage or driveway.
— Never leave keys in the car and store them out of children’s reach.
“Also, if a caregiver notices a child is missing, it’s always a good idea to make your vehicle one of the first places to look, including the trunk or storage area,” Kellner said.
She also noted other ways to help avoid children being accidentally locked in hot vehicles are to use drive-thru services when available and to pay for gas at the pump with a debit or credit card as opposed to going inside.