The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) recently encouraged Americans to learn how to prevent pediatric vehicular heatstroke as part of National Heatstroke Prevention Day on July 31, 2019 (NHTSA and NSC: Learn How to Prevent Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths). More than 20 children have already been killed in the United States this year as a result of being left unattended or becoming trapped inside a hot vehicle.
Drivers should never leave a child unattended in a vehicle when running errands, even for a trip that will only take a few minutes. Leaving a window open does not ensure that a vehicle will remain cool, and deaths from heatstroke can occur even when a vehicle is parked in a shaded area.
Owners of parked vehicles should always keep their doors locked so that a child cannot climb in and become trapped. Parents should teach their children that vehicles are never a place to play. Bystanders can also do their part to save young lives by calling 911 immediately if they witness a child alone in a vehicle.
In 2018, a record of 52 children was killed inside a hot vehicle in the United States. The air temperature in an enclosed vehicle is capable of rising nearly 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, with or without a cracked window. Children are particularly susceptible to heatstroke because their body temperatures can increase at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.
The NSC provides free online training on its web site called Children in Hot Cars. The course outlines how distractions can lead to these preventable deaths and advise parents and other caregivers to follow a routine to minimize the risk of accidentally leaving a child in a vehicle. Other tips include:
- Keeping car doors locked so children cannot enter vehicles.
- Teaching children not to play in vehicles.
- Placing a purse, briefcase, or other objects in the backseat so the driver is forced to “look before they lock.”
Since 1998, all but three states (Alaska, New Hampshire, and Vermont) have experienced the death of at least one child from heatstroke in a vehicle, and deaths have occurred in every month of the calendar year, even during the winter. Take the NSC’s safety course so you don’t contribute to your own tragic accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.