Recently, the issue of children and animals being left in hot vehicles has become a very hot (no pun intended) topic. Dramatic videos of police and even bystanders smashing windows to get to animals or children seem to be popping up on the internet almost daily. Further attention was drawn when NFL player Tyrann Mathieu made a video to see how long he could last in a hot car. This isn’t just an overreaction, or a public fixation with a topic. The fact is 38 children on average die each year from being left in hot vehicles. Being a car dealership, we want to ensure that our customers and our community take as many precautions as necessary to avoid tragedy.
While recent national attention has focused on a child allegedly being intentionally left in a car, the vast majority of deaths are caused by accident. Just take a look at these statistics (via USA Today):
- An average of 38 children have died in hot cars each year in the USA since 1998.
- Since 1998, 619 children have died in vehicles from heat stroke in the USA.
- More than 70% of heat stroke deaths occur in children younger than age 2.
- More than half of heat stroke deaths occur because a caregiver forgot the child in the car.
- Roughly 30% of heat stroke deaths occur because the child got in the car without a caregiver knowing and couldn’t get out
- Nearly 20% of deaths occur because a caregiver intentionally left the child in the car.
- Cars heat up quickly. A vehicle can heat up 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
- Cracking the windows or not parking in direct sunlight does not make a car significantly cooler. Heat stroke deaths have occurred even when the vehicle was parked in shade.
- A car can reach 110 degrees when temperatures are only in the 60s. Heat stroke can take place when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
- The body temperatures of children can increase three to five times faster than adults. Heat stroke begins when the body passes 104 degrees. Reaching an internal temperature of 107 degrees can be deadly.
These facts and statistics are very unsettling. Fortunately here is a list of tips you can do to help avoid a heat related accident (from kidsandcars.org).
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- “Look Before You Lock” – Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.
- Create a reminder to check the back seat.
- Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
- Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts. If your child will not be attending daycare as scheduled, it is the parent’s responsibility to call and inform the childcare provider. If your child does not show up as scheduled; and they have not received a call from the parent, the childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
- Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
- Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
- Use drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.
The important thing to remember is that every heat related accident is just that, an accident. Each and every one of these deaths can be avoided. By simple precautions, you can ensure that you and your family remain as safe as possible this summer.
For additional information go to http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke.html
Court Street Ford, located at 558 William Latham Drive, is a multi-year president’s award winning dealership. We have been serving the Kankakee, Bradley, Bourbonnais area for 30 years and counting! We are committed to exceptional customer service. Stop by our dealership, or give us a call at (815) 939-9600. Our knowledgeable sales team and service department will be happy to help and are dedicated to providing the best experience.