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The Dangers of Leaving Children in Hot Cars

Every year, heartbreaking and accidental deaths occur when children are left inside cars. According to a website that tracks hot car deaths, since 1998 an average of 37 US children have died every year from being left in cars that overheated. Nearly all were caused by lack of attention and could have been prevented. Thus, vehicular heatstroke can be a wrongful death case.

According to statistics from 1998-2014, such accidents are the result of three primary circumstances:

  • In 53%, the child was ‘forgotten’ to be in the car. 
  • In 29%, the child was playing unattended inside a car without the knowledge of the caregiver.
  • In 17%, the child was intentionally left inside the car generally while the adult ran an errand.

Within minutes of being left inside a hot vehicle, a child is put into danger. To keep your child safe, here’s what you need to know:

  1. There are No Exceptions. A depressing 53% of all the children who died from vehicular heatstroke were under the age of 2. This is partly due to caregivers/guardians not wanting to disturb sleeping infants or mess with cumbersome seat buckles for what they assume is a quick stop. But even a few minutes can fatal. The inside of a car can heat up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minuteson an average summer day.
  2. Symptoms and Repercussions. Heatstroke begins when your child’s core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees and becomes lethal at 107 degrees. Because a young child’s core temperature can spike three to five times faster than adults, heatstroke can happen in temperatures as low as 57 degreesand in shaded areas. Symptoms that a child is reaching dangerous heat levels include disorientation, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
  3. Set Reminders. As mentioned before, most cases involve forgetting the child was even in the car, generally because they’re sleeping and it’s easy for an overworked, tired guardian to get sidetracked with sudden schedule changes. You can prevent this by setting reminders and insisting on caregivers to set reminders that there is a child in the back. Promote visual cues like putting a post-it note on the rearview mirror or keeping the diaper bag on the passenger seat.

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