With spring and summer just around the corner, it’s perhaps time to remind ourselves about the dangers represented by vehicles left in the sun, especially with children inside.
Studies have shown that the temperature inside a vehicle can rapidly rise to extremely dangerous levels. Children’s bodies are much more sensitive than adults bodies and their temperatures can rise 3 to 5 times faster (it’s a question of body mass. A chicken cooks faster than a turkey… no nasty insinuations intended). The effects on the child’s body can be disastrous with severe dehydration, seizures, brain damage and eventually death.
So here are the safety rules once again:
1. Never leave a child alone, unattended in a vehicle. NEVER! Even if you are just going to be 2 seconds (or so you think) take the child with you.
2. Make it a habit to always have your keys in your hands when you get out of the car. It’s just too easy to accidentally lock your keys in the car and if your child is strapped in his car seat he’s going to be in harm’s way by the time you get the vehicle unlocked.
3. Have a spare key somewhere you can get at it fast (magnetic key holder, wheel well, etc…) just in case safety rules # 2 fails. Especially if you have small children or consistently drive small children around, make sure you have a spare key somewhere where you can get to it fast if you accidentally lock your keys in your car.
4. When stopping for gas, pay at the pump. Take out a gas station credit card or do whatever you have to do to make sure you don’t have to go into the gas station to pay while leaving the child in the car.
5. Do not leave your vehicle unlocked when at home. Even if it isn’t a matter of protecting your car from burglars, it’s too easy for children to climb in an unlocked vehicle and end up locking themselves in. By the time you figure out what has happened, it might be too late. Always keep your car locked.
What about if you notice a child alone and unattended inside a vehicle?
1. call 911. They will ask about the vehicles’ license plate, the age of the child, the apparent condition of the child.
2. if the vehicle isn’t locked, open the doors to get air circulating. Provide shade for the child with a blanket, sunshade or coat until emergency services get there. If the child appears to be in distress, remove the child from the vehicle and stay close until emergency services arrive.