Within the next week we will be officially moving from Spring into Summer. And while Summer brings with it longer days, fun in the sun, and lots of exciting events and travels, it also brings with it the threat of heat strokes. This is especially the case for pets and children who inadvertently get left in the vehicles. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least remember this warning: A hot car is not safe for children or pets!
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “In both 2018 and 2019, 53 children died in hot cars. These are the deadliest years on record in the past 20 years. Since 1998, almost 900 children have died from vehicular heatstroke; 24% of incidents occurred while a parent or caregiver was at a place of work. Parents and caregivers can act immediately to end these preventable deaths.”
53 children dying from a very preventable death is awful, and couple that with twice as many pet deaths for the very same reason each year. So how does this very preventable unspeakable thing happen? Well, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), “The majority of hot car deaths — 53% — happen because someone forgets a child in a car.”
Additionally, about 46% of the time when a child was forgotten, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at a daycare or preschool. Research indicates that Thursdays and Fridays (the end of the workweek) have had the highest deaths. Moreover, nearly 75% of children who are forgotten and die are under 2 years old.
And while we do not have statistics on pets, it has been suggested that the number of pets (most often dogs) that overheat and die in a hot car is nearly twice that of children. This is quite disturbing really, as all these deaths (both children and pets) are 100% preventable. It is for this reason we wanted to share some information and resources on this topic, and we hope that you pass this information on to others as well. The more we educate ourselves and those we have influence with, the better job we can do of preventing such needless vehicle fatalities.
Tips for keeping children safe for risk of a hot car.
- Park, look, lock – Get in the habit of looking for your baby and children when you get out of the car and before you lock it. Many newer vehicles even have an alert that comes up once you turn your vehicle off that reminds you to check your back seat before locking the doors and leaving your vehicle unattended.
- Keep your vehicle locked – According the NHTSA Vehicular heatstroke deaths don’t just happen when a child is forgotten. The second leading cause of such deaths are children getting into unattended vehicles. For this reason, you should always keep your doors and trunk locked year-round, especially since the temperature inside a car can reach over 115 degrees even when the outside temperature is as mild as 70 degrees.
- Never leave a child alone – No matter how quickly you believe you will be in and out of a store, it is just not a good habit to leave your child in the car, even for a few minutes. There are too many things that can happen.
And while we won’t go into tips on how to keep your pets safe from being left in a vehicle, it should be mentioned that many people still believe that it’s ok to leave a dog in a car, even on a warm day, so long as the windows are left open, or they are parked in the shade. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, your vehicle can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it isn’t that warm outside. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) website states that “when it’s 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.” So if the temp can move up 25 degrees within an hour of being closed up even on a cold day, imagine how miserable a 75 degree day can feel to a dog or child trapped inside a vehicle for an hour!
What to do if you see a child or pet locked in a hot car.
- Take down the car make, model, and license plate number.
- If the child or animal appears to be okay, try to locate the parents or owner. If you are at a public place, such as a grocery store, you can have the manager make an announcement over the intercom or get a store security guard to help with the situation.
- If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child. This may mean breaking a window or calling 911 for first responders. Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. Note: In the case of an animal, you would typically call the non-emergency number to the local police rather than 911.
Sadly, many people are simply ignorant to the dangers of heat strokes and hot cars. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to combat such senseless deaths is to educate others and spread the word.
Here are some resources that may help you educate yourself, as well as share such information with others:
This summer let’s all do our part to help prevent heat strokes and deaths due to hot vehicles. Having a working a/c may help in this process. We are OKC Auto Works specialize both in mechanical repairs as well as auto body repairs and are experts at solving automobile a/c problems. Give us a call if we can help! (405) 634-8200.