“I was tired and late for work, but I swear I thought I dropped her off at the daycare.”
“He was sleeping and I just needed to run into the store for a minute.”
“I was sure all the kids were in the house.”
You think it could never happen to you. No parent ever does. You could never forget your child in the back seat of a car.
Yet every summer, we hear the heartbreaking stories of children who’ve died while left alone strapped into car seats on a hot day. According to KidsandCars.org, 32 children died of heat stroke in hot cars in 2014. Tragically, this totally avoidable accident has resulted in the deaths of over 500 children in the United States over the past 25 years.
Dr. Bryan Thibodeau, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Medical City Las Colinas, explains that even a few minutes in a hot car is much more dangerous for children than adults. Unlike adults, children’s bodies produce more heat relative to their size and they are unable to cool themselves through perspiration, making them extremely susceptible to heat-related illness. Within minutes, the inside temperature of a parked car can reach 125 degrees, even with the window cracked. Children have died of heat stroke in cars in outdoor temperatures as low as 60 degrees.
Dr. Thibodeau emphasizes, “It is illegal in Texas to leave a child under 7 years old unattended in a vehicle for longer than 5 minutes. Children under 7 years old must be accompanied by an individual who is 14 years old or older, or you risk being fined up to $500 and investigated by Child Protective Services.”
Please share these simple, potentially lifesaving safety tips from KidsandCars.org, and visit their website for more information.
- Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute.
- “Look Before You Lock” – Always check the back seat before leaving your vehicle to make sure no child has been left behind.
- Put your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat and place it in the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the car seat.
- Make it a strict policy with your childcare provider to contact you immediately if your child does not show up as scheduled and you have not notified them of the absence.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, childcare providers and neighbors to do the same.
- Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
- Be especially mindful during busy times, schedule changes, and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
- Use drive‐thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.
Enjoy a happy and safe summer. Should you need emergency services, Medical City Healthcare has 16 emergency locations with average wait times posted online to help you get the care you need fast. Visit FastERTX.com to find a fast HCA ER near you.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.