Sometimes in our hectic lifestyles, we get so overwhelmed that we take shortcuts or forget things altogether. Shortcuts may include leaving the kids, pets or elderly in the car to avoid the hassle of loading and unloading. Maybe your older children asked to stay in the car and play while you run in to the store, this can sound appealing when you are tired and in a hurry. These things may save a minute or two throughout the day, but be aware of the hazards.
Last year there were 39 child fatalities in the United States resulting from hyperthermia after being left in hot vehicles. Since 1998, at least 705 of these preventable tragedies have been documented. Hyperthermia can occur on relatively mild weathered days. An outside temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit can spike to life-threatening temperatures inside a vehicle very rapidly, as noted in the table below:
|Average Elapsed Time||Temperature Rise|
|10 minutes||19° F|
|20 minutes||29° F|
|30 minutes||34° F|
|60 minutes||43° F|
|1-2 hours||45-50° F|
“Cracking” the windows had little effect.
It may be hard to comprehend the act of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, but 605 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths examined between 1998-2016 revealed the following startling circumstances:
Not only is it dangerous to leave your children in an unattended vehicle, it can be illegal. Washington is one of only 15 states that have laws prohibiting leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.
Follow these tips to keep your family safe:
1. NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE!
2. IF YOU SEE A CHILD, PET or ELDERLY PERSON UNATTENDED IN A HOT VEHICLE, CALL 9-1-1.
3. Be sure all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
4. Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
5. To help serve as a reminder, keep a stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When placing your child in the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front with the driver. Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat so you will be forced to look before exiting the vehicle.
6. Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
7. Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
East Pierce Fire & Rescue would like to remind you that pets and the elderly are just as vulnerable to hyperthermia as children and should not be left in hot vehicles. An average of one child a week will die in a hot car this summer; please don’t let it be yours.
Visit www.eastpiercefire.org for more safety tips.