Protecting Children From the Hazardous Combination of Cars and Summer Heat
As the school
year dwindles down and the temperatures heat up, you'll need to be more
aware of the potentially dangerous combination of cars and children.
can quickly raise temperatures inside a car to potentially lethal
levels, according to Barb Bailey, an injury prevention specialist for
the Colorado SAFE KIDS Coalition, who urged parents never to leave
their children inside a vehicle during the summer heat — even
just for a few minutes.
window to let air in does nothing to protect children from hyperthermia
or abnormally high body temperatures. Inside vehicle temperatures rise
quickly," Bailey said.
In fact, says
the Colorado SAFE KIDS Coalition, when the outside temperature is 93
degrees Fahrenheit and a vehicle window is down one-and-a-half inches,
the temperature inside the car can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit in just
20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit in 40 minutes.
Other safety precautions to combat heat-related injuries in cars, the coalition said, include:
- If a child gets locked inside the car, dial 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
- Before buckling a child in a car, make certain
to check the temperature of the car seat surface and safety belt
buckles to prevent serious burns.
- Use a light covering to shade the seat of a parked vehicle. Consider using windshield shades in front and back windows.
need to be vigilant when your car is not in use, because unlocked cars
can pose serious risks to children who are naturally curious and often
lack fear, Bailey added. Last summer alone, 11 children nationwide died
when they were unintentionally trapped in the trunks of unattended
"Kids can get
in, but can't always get out," said Bailey. "In very hot weather, heat
stroke may result and could lead to permanent disability or even death
in a matter of minutes."
Bailey provided the following safety tips to prevent children from becoming trapped in vehicles' trunks:
- Teach children not to play in or around vehicles.
- Keep the doors and trunk of the vehicle locked
when parked in the driveway or near the home. It will prevent children
from opening the doors and locking themselves inside the vehicle.
- Keep the rear fold-down seats closed to prevent children from getting into the trunk from inside the vehicle.
- Put car keys out of children's reach and sight.
- Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach
children how to disable the driver's door locks if they unintentionally
become trapped in a vehicle.
- Contact the automobile dealership where the
vehicle was purchased about getting the vehicle retrofitted with a
You can get a
free copy of "Trunks Are For Elephants, Not For Kids," an educational
guide from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and General Motors, which
discusses the dangers of trunk entrapment in hot weather, as well as
other hazards posed to children by parked vehicles, by calling (303)
Copyright 2000 Health Resources Publishing