June 16, 2017 – This week in Arkansas, a five year old boy lost his life in a van with the outside temperature only 88 degrees. It will be much hotter than that in the Northern Valley in the coming days, just the type of weather that can seriously injure or kill a child trapped inside a parked car. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), state and local officials caution parents and caregivers to make sure children are never left in cars and can never find their way into an unattended car.
A car’s internal temperature can quickly rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even on days as cool as 80 degrees, and can rapidly reach fatal temperatures, increasing as much as 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. 100 degrees outside can reach over 140 degrees inside a car in less than an hour. 105 degrees outside can reach 130 degrees inside in less than 20 minutes.
Young children’s bodies don’t regulate heat like an adult’s. A child’s internal temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster, making them more vulnerable to hyperthermia, or heatstroke. Leaving a small window opening has little effect on cooling.
Parent and caregiver cautions:
Look before you lock. Make it a habit to look in the backseat when leaving the vehicle. Either put something of the child’s on the seat next to you or put something you will need next to the child as a visual reminder that your child is with you. If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been changed, check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
Never leave a child alone in a car. The potential consequences may include severe injury or death for the child, or being arrested.
Keep it locked. Nearly a third of child hyperthermia car deaths come from children playing in unattended vehicles. Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. Teach children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area. If a child is missing, check the pool first, then the car and trunk.
Take action if you notice a child unattended in a car. Don’t wait for more than a few minutes for the driver to return. The warning signs of heatstroke include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. If water is available within reach, quickly spray the child with cool water or with a garden hose – NEVER an ice bath. Always stay with the child until help arrives.
For additional information, facts, graphics, and stats on kids in hot cars, visit http://noheatstroke.org/