Sometimes babies sleep so peacefully that busy parents can forget they are even there. Other times, we might be tempted to leave kids in the car while we run into the store or dash off to do an errand. Children can also end up alone in cars if the doors or trunk are left unlocked.
Thirty-eight kids die each year from being unattended in a vehicle. That’s why children should never be alone in a car. It can lead to heat stroke, which causes serious injury or even death. Young children are particularly at risk since their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Here’s how we can work together to keep this preventable tragedy from happening:
Remembering to act
Avoid heat stroke related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child so that you’ll have additional prompts. Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
Teach kids not to play in cars
• Make sure to lock your vehicle (doors and the trunk) when you’re away from it. Keep keys and remote entry fobs out of children’s sight and reach.
• Teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play.
• If your child is missing, immediately check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks. Get kids who are locked in cars out as soon as possible. If you can’t do so quickly, dial 911 right away. Emergency personnel are trained to evaluate and check for signs of heat stroke.
• If you regularly drop your child off at child care, create a calendar reminder on your phone or computer to make sure you’ve done so.
• Make arrangements for your child care provider to call you right away if your child doesn’t show up at the expected time. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off children at child care. Heat stroke incidents often occur when people’s routine is disrupted.