Lakewood, NJ, Chaveirim has once again launched their “Look Before You Lock awareness campaign” in conjunction with the LPD, reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is the number one killer of children outside of car crashes. Children’s bodies warm three to five times faster than adults and their body temperature can reach 106 degrees in as little as 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cars heat up quickly. Within 10 minutes, the internal temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees higher than the external temperature; after 30 minutes, the car’s interior can be 34 degrees hotter, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The interior temperature of a vehicle can soar to 130 degrees in less than seven minutes during a heat wave. Even with 80-degree temperatures the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees in approximately the same amount of time.
According to Chaveirim, it’s very rare that a parent or caregiver simply forgets a child in the backseat. However, the goal of the awareness campaign is to give people that extra reminder; it does unfortunately happen that a parent or caregiver is distracted or tired and forgets about a sleeping child in the back seat of a vehicle. 99.9% of lockouts occur when a parent or caregiver is right there but accidentally locked the keys in the car with a child or children. However, a Chaveirim member says, “We have seen people run into a store to just grab something, leaving their kids out in the car. We aim to strongly discourage this practice, especially in this heat.”
Chaveirim advises you to make yourself a visual reminder; for example, you can keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. When the child is sitting in the seat, the stuffed animal can be placed in the front passenger seat as a reminder that you’ve got a backseat occupant. Simply replace the stuffed animal once you’ve removed your child from the car seat. If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check that your child arrived safely.
From 1998-2013, 606 children died due to heatstroke, representing 61% of total non-crash fatalities in this age group. Of the 606 deaths: 52% were forgotten in the vehicle; 29% gained access by themselves and became trapped; 18% were left intentionally; 1% were unknown cases. Children are at a higher risk than adults of dying from heatstroke in a hot vehicle, especially when they are too young to communicate.
If the sun isn’t shining, don’t assume a child can’t get heatstroke. Unfortunately, it can happen on cloudy days and even when outside temperatures are below 70 degrees.
With the summer approaching, Chaveirim advises you to always take the following precautions:
- Always look before you lock.
- Always keep your vehicles locked when not in use so kids don’t climb in.
- Never leave children in a vehicle alone, even for just a minute.
- Never leave young children in a vehicle for a long period of time.
- If you are driving a school bus, always check for sleeping children.