According to SafeKids.org, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. In a study by the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, it was found that a total of 641 child heatstroke deaths were recorded from 1998 to present. That’s about 37 heatstroke deaths per year! Many of these cases happened because young children were left in hot cars for too long. In 2014, 30 cases were listed. There have been five cases of heatstroke so far this year, 2015.
How heatstroke accidents happen
Common reasons these heatstroke incidents happen is because children are either left in the car, inadvertently forgotten or have gotten in unlocked cars without their parents knowing. Once the child is in the car, without an adult keeping them company, they are exposed to the unforgiving heat. If they can’t get out of the car, and it’s hot outside, the inside of the car will heat up quickly. Danger can set in within minutes.
The National Weather Service (NWS) stated that leaving the car window open wouldn’t help decrease the heating rate in a parked vehicle. The more alarming fact is that heatstroke can occur even in relatively mild days. The NWS added that kids are at risk because their bodies haven’t developed the ability to efficiently regulate their internal temperature. Also, they may not know how to unbuckle their seat beat and open the car door on their own.
How to prevent car heatstroke deaths
Heatstroke deaths can be prevented. We can all do something to make sure our kids aren’t left in hot cars. Here are few tips:
- Never leave kids alone in a car, even for just a few minutes. It’s tempting to make a quick run to the store and leave your baby in the car. However, no matter what, don’t. You never know what you will bump into that may cause you to be out longer than you planned. In any case, bring the kids with you. It’s safer that way.
- If you’re out for an errand you don’t usually do and with a baby in tow, make sure to place something beside them that you will need to take with you to your destination, kike your purse or cell phone. It’s possible to forget that you have company, especially when they are quietly sleeping in the backseat. Yes, this sounds like a no-brainer but it has happened time and time again. It’s better to be sure.
- Make sure that your car is locked at all times when no one is in it. Also, keep the car keys where your kids can’t reach them. This will help avoid cases of your kids getting accidentally locked inside the car.
As a Kentucky Child Accident Attorney, I know how hot our summers can be in Kentucky. If you see kids or pets left alone inside of a hot car, please call the police right away. They will come and handle the situation. I know your first instinct is to break into the car to get the kids out, but please don’t break into the car. That could lead to a lawsuit against you later. Remember that with just one call, you can save a life and help prevent another heatstroke accident.