Every year, we hear of young children who are injured or killed from being left unattended in vehicles. Approximately half of these incidents happen when the child is accidentally forgotten in the vehicle. The other primary causes are children who gain access to the vehicle without the parent/caregiver’s knowledge, and children who are intentionally left in vehicles.
The facts are simple:
- Vehicles heat up very quickly, even with a window rolled partially down. Within 10 minutes, the vehicle temperature can increase by 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 34 degrees in 30 minutes. So, even on a cool day, the interior temperatures of vehicles can quickly become dangerous.
- Children’s bodies are more susceptible to heat than adults’ bodies. Their bodies heat up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s bodies and they are not as able to lower their body temperatures through sweating. A child’s body temperature can rise to 106 degrees in about 10-15 minutes (and heatstroke can occur at a body temperature of 104 degrees).
Because these deaths and injuries are preventable, it is up to parents and caregivers to have systems in place to protect children. “Safe Kids Worldwide” has launched a campaign and developed the acronym of "ACT" to help keep children safe in vehicles:
A—AVOID heat-related injuries and death by never leaving your child alone in a car. Not with the windows partially down and not “just for a minute”. Keep your car doors and trunk locked and your keys out of the reach of children. Teach children to not play in cars.
C—CREATE REMINDERS. Many of these tragedies occur when parents or caregivers are distracted or are varying from their regular routines. A parent can put a purse or briefcase, something that you will need when you arrive at your destination, next to the child as a reminder that the child is in the vehicle. Child care providers must have a list of all children in the vehicle that will be checked each time children enter or leave the vehicle to ensure that they are all accounted for at all times.
T—TAKE ACTION. If you see an unattended child in a car, call 911 immediately. If the child is in imminent danger, take immediate action to remove the child from the car.
If your Transportation Policy does not already include measures to ensure that children are not left unattended in vehicles, check ours out here.