As summer comes to a peak, it is important to be aware of the danger that heat can pose to children, especially when it comes to hot vehicles. The inside of your vehicle may be anywhere from 40-50℉ hotter than the external temperature.
For example, when the outside temperature is around 80℉, the temperature inside of your vehicle can climb upwards of 120-130℉. The human body begins to shut down around 104 ℉, and death occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches approximately 107 ℉. On average, 39 children under the age of 15 die inside a hot car each year; 75% of these children were under 2 years of age. 2018 was a record year, reporting 53 deaths, followed closely by 2019 reporting 52.
From 1998 to the present, Texas leads in heat stroke-related child deaths, reporting 130 fatalities; followed by Florida which reports 94. The state of Utah reports only 11 child deaths related to heatstroke. Although Utah ranks significantly lower than both Florida and Texas, all heat-related child fatalities are preventable.
How Are These Deaths Occurring?
These fatalities can occur in a number of ways. The child’s caretaker may forget them in their vehicle (accounting for 54% of these fatalities); the child may lock themselves inside the vehicle (accounting for 25% of these deaths); a child’s caretaker leaves them in the vehicle on purpose, typically while running ‘quick’ errands. However, a child may overheat even when the AC is on; a child’s body temperature increases anywhere from 3-5 times faster than the average adult’s.
How To Keep Your Child Safe
- When you park your vehicle, look in the back seat before exiting the car. Once you have confirmed that your child isn’t in the vehicle, get out and lock your car.
- Always keep your vehicles locked, and the keys away from children. This will prevent your child from getting into your vehicle unattended.
- Never leave your child unattended when in a motor vehicle; even if the AC is running your child can overheat.
- Place an essential item in the backseat with your child. This can include your cell phone, purse, or shoe. This will help remind you to check the backseat.
- Teach your child how to honk your car horn. This way your child can alert you if they are in danger or are trapped.
What To Do If You Come Upon A Child Stuck in a Vehicle
First, check that the child is responsive. If you find that the child is unresponsive, or seems to be in distress, dial 911 immediately. You may also have to break the car window to rescue the child. However, most states have ‘Good Samaritan’ laws that will protect you from any resulting legal action.
Conversely, if the child is responsive, you should attempt to locate their parents. If you are at a public facility, have the staff page the parents back to their vehicle.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!