2 Your Health: Preventing hot car deaths

Expert tips on keeping children safe and top of mind

Credit: NBC News

It seems unthinkable, but each year children die from heatstroke after being accidentally left in a vehicle on a hot day.

Lisa Diard, M.D. of Cleveland Clinic Children’s reminds us that children can overheat very quickly inside of a hot car.

“The car acts like a greenhouse and it absorbs all of that radiant heat from the sun, but doesn’t escape and the child’s body temperature can elevate very rapidly and cause heat stroke and death,” she said.

Tragic accidents

Babies and young children are especially sensitive to extreme heat.

We often hear of the tragic reports of a loving parent or caregiver accidentally leaving a sleeping child in the car.

Other times, a curious toddler or young child climbs into the car or trunk to play and is unable to escape.

Both scenarios can become dangerous in as little as 10 minutes on a hot day, according to Dr. Diard.

Reminders, tips and tricks

Experts recommend getting into the habit of checking the car before heading into work by putting something in the backseat that’s needed during the day, like a cell phone, purse or briefcase, that way a child will be noticed if a caregiver has become distracted and forgotten to drop them off at daycare.

Another idea is to leave a stuffed animal in an empty car seat and then transfer it to the front when the car seat is occupied – that way the stuffed toy will serve as a visual reminder that a child is in the back.

It’s also important to make sure children know the car is not a safe place to play and to always keep car keys out of reach.

“Make sure you have your car keys, automatic door openers, in a location where they cannot find them and if you can’t find your child, make sure you always check in the car,” said Dr. Diard.

Dr. Diard also stressed that it’s never okay to leave a child alone in the car and it’s not a good habit to get into, no matter what the weather forecast or season.


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