Heat can be deadly to children left in hot cars

Kandace Redd, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Children left in hot cars can suffer heat stroke and even die.

Because of the area’s hot weather, AAA Mid-Atlantic is cautioning drivers not to leave children inside cars in the heat and for people to call 911 if they see children in hot vehicles.

“With these temperatures, it will certainly be very hot and uncomfortable outdoors,” says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II.

“But as hot as it is outdoors, temperatures inside a car can quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees with no relief. This is hot enough to kill most living beings, and cause most cars to conk out or to break down on the road.”

The law is quite simple. Drivers face penalties for purposely or accidentally leaving a child in a hot car.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under.

Parents can keep their children safe this summer by following these child passenger safety tips:

  • Do not under any circumstance leave a child alone in a car. The inside of the car can still become hot quickly, even if a window is partially open.
  • Call 911 immediately when a child has been left in a hot car unattended. Try to cool the child as soon as possible by applying cool water to the child’s skin. While waiting for help to arrive, cool the child. Use ice packs under his armpits and on his groin area. Or wet him with a garden hose.
  • Children should be taught that a car is not a play area. Never allow your child to play in an unattended car. Be sure to lock the car at all times and keep car keys away from children.
  • If a spouse or guardian is dropping off a child at day care, then make sure that he calls to confirm that all went well.
  • Request a phone call from the childcare center if a child is late or does not arrive on time.
  • Before locking the car door and leaving, make it a routine to always look inside the car. Drivers can remind themselves a child is in the car by doing the following:
    • Write a reminder note and leave it in the car where it will be seen.
    • Place important items, such as purses and briefcases, in the backseat with a child, as a way to remember to check the back seat.
    • Leave a stuffed toy in the seat next to you as a reminder.
    • Use an free iPhone app like Baby Reminder as an additional reminder.

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