INDIANAPOLIS – The tragedy continues to happen, even to the most doting parents: a young child, left inside a car during hot weather, dies of heat stroke.
“Even the best parents can get distracted and forget to check a back seat,” said Lori Warner, RN, director of Women & Children’s Services at Franciscan St. Francis Health. “The key is to know the dangers and adopt safe practices when traveling with children.”
In warm weather, a child’s body temperature raises three to five times faster than an adult’s. That, paired with the quickly rising temperature inside a vehicle – even when windows are partially rolled down – can be a dangerous combination.
The key, said Warner, is to have a plan.
“The best safety measure you can take as a parent is to develop a routine around checking the car – inside and out – before you leave it,” she said.
Here are some tips from KidsAndCars.org, an advocacy group that promotes a “Look before you lock” campaign to prevent these kinds of deaths:
· Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute.
· Put your cell phone, purse, briefcase, etc., on the floor of the back seat.
· Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s seat when it’s not occupied. Move it to the front seat when your child is traveling with you. Use this visual reminder to prompt you to check the back seat when you leave the car.
· When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
· Use drive-thru services when available when doing errands.
· Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If the child is in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with coo water or with a garden hose).