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Warning - don't leave a child in a car unattended

Contributor: 

Summer Heat Can Mean Danger

A father is driving to the grocery store on a hot, sunny day. In the back seat, safe in her car seat, 16 month old Kelsey has fallen asleep. When they arrive at the shopping center, the father, reluctant to wake her, leaves her sleeping peacefully "just for a minute." He puts the window down a crack, intending to return quickly. Twenty minutes later, he hurries to the car only to find Kelsey unconscious. She is pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, her body temperature having reached 106 degrees.

Even with a window cracked, temperatures inside an automobile can rise to deadly extremes in a very short period--within 10 to 15 minutes. Temperatures inside motor vehicles can quickly become dangerously high, even on relatively mild days. To find out just how high and how quickly cars heat up, click here to read "A Preliminary Study of Temperatures in Enclosed Vehicles."

So far this year KidsNCars has documented 63 deaths of children as a result of being left alone in or around cars, 16 of these were heat-related. Because there is no national data system these numbers are believed to be far lower than the true figures. (CDC Report) Clearly the need for a national database to track these incidents is urgent. The scope of the problem and the particular details of each incident need to be tracked so that appropriate prevention policies can be devised.

What You Can Do Now

* Children should never be left alone in a motor vehicle, not even for you to run a quick errand.
* Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.
* Teach your children to never play in or around a vehicle.
* Keys should never be left within reach of children.
* Always make sure that all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
* If a child is locked inside a car, get him or her out as quickly as possible. If she or he is very hot or seems sick, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
* When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks right away.

What Can Be Done

* Legislation should be enacted in states that don't currently have laws to discourage people from leaving children unattended in motor vehicles.
* Technological solutions need to be developed that would prevent motor vehicles from reaching dangerous interior temperatures, or that would prevent parents from leaving a child unattended.
* Support KidsNCars and others working to prevent these needless deaths and injuries.