There’s more to keeping your child safe while you drive than having the proper car seat. As temperatures in Arizona heat up, it’s important to understand the lethal danger of leaving a child inside a locked car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. In 2018, 51 children died of heatstroke in hot cars across the United States.
The inside of a vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels very quickly — more than 20 degrees in just ten minutes — and not just on a hot Arizona day. Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the interior of a car can reach 110 degrees.
Look Before You Lock
To avoid the potentially-tragic consequences of accidentally leaving a child in a hot car, the NHTSA offers the following recommendations:
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
- Cracking a window does not protect your child.
- Make it a habit to always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away. Every time.
- Try keeping a stuffed animal or other noticeable object in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder that your child is riding in the back. Make it part of your routine.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
One Arizonan, Lou Molinari, is doing his part to raise awareness and help prevent children and pets from being left in hot cars. His nonprofit organization, BabySav, offers stickers, signs and keychains to remind drivers with young children to ‘Take Us With You!’
“BabySav is one of the many ways to help remind a caregiver that a child or pet may have been forgotten in a vehicle,” said Molinari. “No one solution can truly end this dilemma. It will take all solutions together to have an impact. The reason being is that parents, grandparents and caregivers are human. We are not perfect. So a combination of legislation, technology and awareness efforts like BabySav are needed. ‘Let’s Not Forget and Regret!’”
Take Action If You See a Child Alone in a Car
Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility. The NHTSA says to take action if you see a child left alone in a car. Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
“Don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business—protecting children is everyone’s business; besides, ‘Good Samaritan’ laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency.”
If the child is not responsive or in distress:
- Call 911.
- Get the child out of the car.
- Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath).
If the child is responsive:
- Stay with the child until help arrives.
- Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.