Over the past few months, nine children have died while alone in a vehicle. A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. It takes only a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated.
Every year, more than 30 children die because they are alone in a car. In just 10 minutes a car’s temperature can increase by 19 degrees – and it continues to rise. There is no evidence that cracking the windows helps prevent the temperature in vehicle interiors from reaching dangerous levels. In fact, sunlight coming through car windows makes the car work like an oven.
• Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
• Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
• Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
• Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
• Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care.
• Teach children not to play in any vehicle.
• Lock all vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has exited the vehicle – especially at home. Keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are not playgrounds or babysitters.
• Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child goes missing.
PLEDGE: I pledge to never leave my child in the car alone, even for a minute. If I see a child left alone in a car, I will call 911 immediately.
[From Diana Marshall] There are plenty of resources, including printable posters at safekids.org, http://www.safekids.org/ (1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20004 tel 202-662-0600 fax 202-393-2072).