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Keeping Kids Safe in Hot Cars: Essential Tips

Jul 11, 2024Library

Dr. Lovette, Delta Health Pediatrics

Summer brings fun in the sun, but it also brings a serious danger: the risk of heatstroke for children left in hot cars. This is a heartbreaking and preventable tragedy that affects families across the country, including here in Colorado. From 1998 to 2020, Colorado reported 10 child deaths due to heatstroke in hot cars. Let’s ensure this number doesn’t rise. Here are some practical tips to keep our children safe.

Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car

Even for a minute. It may seem harmless to run into the store for a quick errand, but temperatures inside a car can rise rapidly. On a 70-degree day, the inside of a car can reach 89 degrees in just 10 minutes. Always take your child with you, no matter how short the trip. Or better yet, leave them at home with a caregiver while you run your errands.

Create a Reminder System

Life is hectic, and distractions happen. Parents who have left their children in the back seats of their cars will be first to tell you that they had other things on their mind, like work issues, home life struggles, or just lots of errands. And if their child was asleep, there was very little to remind them of the presence of that child in the back seat of their car. To help ensure you don’t forget a child in the backseat, place an essential item like your phone, bag, or even a shoe in the back. This way, you’ll need to check the backseat before leaving the car. A shoe works especially well since you will immediately know you are missing it when you step out of your car.

Use Technology

Modern cars often come equipped with alert systems to remind you to check the backseat. If your car doesn’t have this feature, consider using apps or gadgets designed to prevent hot car deaths. These technologies can send alerts to your phone if your child is left behind.

Establish a Routine with Caregivers

If multiple people are responsible for dropping off or picking up your child, establish a communication routine. A simple text or call to confirm that your child has been safely dropped off can prevent confusion and ensure their safety.

Educate Children about Car Safety

As kids grow, teach them the dangers of playing in and around cars. Explain why it’s never safe to be left alone in a car and what they should do if they find themselves in that situation. Empower them with knowledge about car safety.

Keep Car Doors Locked

Children are curious and adventurous. Always lock your car doors and trunk when the vehicle is not in use to prevent children from climbing inside and becoming trapped.

Use a Stuffed Animal as a Reminder

Place a stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s not in use. When your child is in the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the back.

Act Immediately if You See a Child Alone in a Car

If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate. Call emergency services right away. If the child is in distress, try to get them out of the car as quickly and safely as possible. Your quick action could save a life.

Spread Awareness

Talk to your friends, family, and community about the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. Share safety tips and encourage others to stay vigilant. Raising awareness can help prevent these tragic incidents.

Stay Vigilant

Always be aware of your surroundings. When you park your car, take a moment to look around and ensure no child is left inside. A few seconds of vigilance can make a significant difference.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, we can prevent the heartbreaking loss of children due to heatstroke in hot cars. Let’s work together to make sure every child in Colorado stays safe this summer.

For more information, contact Delta Health Pediatrics at 970.546.4000 or visit deltahealthco.org/delta-health-pediatrics/. Delta Health Pediatrics has walk-in appointments available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as well as same-day appointments available Monday through Friday. Please call the clinic to schedule an appointment.

More tips, articles and videos from Dr. Lovette can also be found online by joining the Healthy Kids Western Slope Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/healthykidswesternslope/.

 

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