The news recently has been filled with nothing but stories on the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the social unrest across the nation that has led to protestors marching through the streets of the larger cities across the nation. Usually this time of year, with temperatures soaring to near record levels, there are news stories about the dangers of leaving small children unattended in hot cars. This is something that everyone needs to be reminded of during this time of year.
With the extremely hot temperatures that we have been experiencing this summer the dangers of leaving a child or pet in an unattended vehicle, even for just a few minutes, can be extremely dangerous and could even be fatal. Here are a few facts to think about the dangers as well as some tips on how to not accidentally leave a small child in a vehicle.
A child’s body temperature rises 3 ‐ 5 times faster than an adult’s. Even with the windows partially down, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 125 degrees in just a few minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained in the vehicle.
There are several factors that contribute to children being inadvertently forgotten by care givers. First and foremost is the fact that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. The most common factors include a change in one’s normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue and distractions. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi‐task is diminished. As parents know, life with newborns and small children is full of stress, sleep deprivation and distractions. And young children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their car seats; becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers. And sadly, for babies with rear‐facing seats, the seat looks the same from the front seat – whether occupied or not.
Here are a few tips to help keep your child safe and from being unknowingly left in a hot vehicle.
Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit.
Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake. Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children. There have been cases where children have been playing outside and shut themselves in a hot car while the caregivers are inside and not aware of where they are paying.
Use drive-thru services when available. (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 immediately. We do not need a tragedy like those that have recently been featured on the local and national news here in Dinwiddie County. If you have questions or concerns about this topic please give us a call here at the Sheriff’s Office.