Skip to main content

It’s Hot Outside – It’s Even Hotter in the Car

If the outside temperature is 101 degrees, then inside a car the temperature can reach a scorching 140 degrees.  Exposure to this high temperature for any length of time can cause serious, irreversible brain injuries, multi-organ failure and even fatalities.

It may be hard to believe, but according to Safe Kids USA, almost 50 children died because they were left in a hot car last year.  Unfortunately, our community is not immune.  Each year our Children’s Emergency Department sees children who have been severely impacted by being left left in a hot car.

So NEVER leave a child alone in a car – even for a minute. And, make a promise to yourself that if you are a bus driver, van driver or the parent dropping his/her child off at camp or daycare, that you will do second-take before walking away from your car.  Here are a few tips from Safe Kids USA to help protect children from an easily preventable disaster.

  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.

Believe it or not, routines and distractions have caused people to mistakenly leave children behind in cars.

  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of a child in a backseat.  This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
  • Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  • Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes.  Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care.

Prevent trunk entrapment.

  • Teach children not to play in any vehicle
  • Lock all vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has exited the vehicle – especially at home.  Keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are not playgrounds or babysitters.
  • Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child goes missing.

WakeMed Children’s is dedicated to providing answers to common questions parents have about children’s health and wellbeing.   Learn more by subscribing to WakeMed’s Families First newsletter.  Have a specific question you would like answered?  Post a comment or email us directly.