NEWTON, MA | July 26, 2011
With the recent heat waves across the nation, parents and caregivers are reminded that leaving young children unattended in vehicles can be deadly. At least 17 children have died in oven-hot cars so far this year—tragedies that were both predictable and preventable.
When the temperature reaches 90 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can rise to 125 degrees in a matter of minutes, with a young child’s body temperature increasing five times faster than that of an adult.
“Many parents still believe that it is okay to leave their kids in the car or in a car seat for a quick stop at the dry cleaner or drug store, but the car is not a babysitter, and there is no excuse for leaving children behind in a sweltering vehicle—even for a minute,” said EDC’s Anara Guard.
Other circumstances can result in children being left in hot cars.” Guard points out that one-quarter of the children who have died of heatstroke climbed into unlocked cars to play. Others were overlooked by busy parents who forgot to drop them at daycare. Still other children have died when each adult thought someone else had taken them out of the vehicle. Frequently, changes in routine, sleeping babies, and large family gatherings can all contribute to losing track of children in the car.
EDC offers several recommendations for keeping children safe:
- Never leave infants or children in a parked car, even for a quick errand and even if the windows are cracked open.
- To help remember that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the child’s safety seat. Then after buckling a child into the seat, move the toy to the front with the driver as a reminder that the child seat is occupied.
- Always lock a car, even at home, and remind friends and neighbors to do the same. Always put keys in a safe place, out of the reach of young children.
- Make a plan with your daycare provider to always call you if your child isn’t dropped off at daycare as expected.
The public can help protect children by reporting a child left unattended in a car to local police or by dialing 911.
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries. Visit www.edc.org.