June 8, 2010
Contact: Julia Piscitelli
Phone: 202-366-9550

 

As summer approaches the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding parents and caregivers that summer heat can make it especially dangerous to leave children in cars.

Prior agency research shows the risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles. Hyperthermia (heat-stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of fourteen (14). NHTSA has found at least 27 documented deaths per year.

Safety tips from NHTSA to prevent hyperthermia include:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or with the engine running and the air conditioning on.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
  • If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure everything went according to plan.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare. Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
    • Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
    • Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
    • Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Warning signs may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

For additional safety tips and information on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles visit www.nhtsa.gov/KeepingKidsSafe.