As parents, leaving a child or children alone in a car is a common temptation. However, this is not a safe practice.
Heartbreaking and preventable deaths have happened when children were left alone in a hot car.
Some times, children are left in a car by mistake, some are left on purpose and sometimes kids get into the car while using the car as a place to play.
When this happens, within minutes, they can be in danger. This can lead to heatstroke and it can ultimately lead to death.
Heat-stroke (hyperthermia) is the biggest danger when one leaves a child unattended in a car. Heat-stroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths in children under 15.
It occurs when body temperature passes 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). This can damage the brain and other body organs.
Symptoms of heat-stroke include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, loss of consciousness, etc. These conditions have been known to lead to death.
It does not take long for a child’s body temperature to become too high very fast when left in a car. This is because the temperature inside a car can increase fast within minutes. Also, it does not have to feel hot outside to be dangerous inside a car.
Leaving the car windows opened slightly does not prevent the temperature from rising to a dangerous level.
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body. Children have a lot of body surface area that absorbs heat. Children’s bodies have not yet developed the ability to cool down well.
Most of the children who have died from heat-stroke after being left alone in a car were 3 and under. However, it has happened to kids as old as 14.
How To protect children from the dangers of Heat-Stroke
Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, no matter how brief!
Indeed, it is sometimes tiring to take a child in and out of the car during quick stops. However, the risks are too high.
In addition, you might think you would never forget your child in the backseat, but it can happen to anyone. Busy schedules, lack of sleep and changes in routine can distract us easier than you think.
Device a strategy to make you check for your child in the backseat of your car each time you get out
Leave your mobile phone, briefcase, shoe, etc on the floor at the back seat near your child. This will help you see your child when you open the door to get the item. You could also set your mobile phone to give you a reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at daycare each morning.
Ask your daycare provider to call you
A good strategy is to ask your daycare provider to call you within a few minutes if your child is late for daycare.
Do not allow your child to play in a car
Prevent situations where your unattended child or children will have access into your parked car.
Lock all doors and the boot after everyone is out of the car
It is as simple as it sounds. Ensure all doors and the boot are closed so that children do not gain access into them.
Keep all keys out of the reach of your child
Keep car keys away from children. This will ensure that access into the car is prevented.
If a child goes missing, check the car
Once you discover that a child is nowhere to be found, check the pool first if you have one. Then check the car, including the trunk.