Hot weather reminder: Look before you lock your car
It only takes 10 minutes for a car to reach deadly temperatures for a child or pet trapped inside.
With unusually warm temperatures at the start of June in the Pacific Northwest, it's important to remember the inside of a car can get hot fast.
On a hot day, even with the windows partially open, a parked car can reach 125 degrees in just a few minutes. Even on a cooler, 60-degree day, the temperature inside your car can hit 110 degrees.
Children are especially vulnerable to heatstroke, as their body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult's, according to child advocacy group KidsandCars.org.
Leaving or forgetting a child in the backseat of a car on a hot day might be hard to fathom for many parents, but it happens. KidsandCars.org reports 10 children have already died from heatstroke inside cars this year.
To prevent injuries and deaths of children left alone in hot cars, KidsandCars.org and safety partners named June 8 National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention and Awareness Day.
KidsandCars.org offers safety tips to help parents prevent tragedy:
- Look before you lock: Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to check to make sure no child, or pet, is left behind.
- Create a reminder to check the backseat:
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat. Right before the child is placed in the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the backseat.
- Put something you'll need such as your cellphone, purse, employee ID or brief case in the backseat to ensure you open the back door of your vehicle to retrieve your belongings.
- Know the signs of heatstroke: Red, hot and moist or dry skin; no sweating; strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse; nausea; confusion or strange behavior
- Make arrangements with your day care provider or babysitter to call you within 10 minutes if your child does not arrive as expected.
- Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute. Instead, use drive-thru services when available and pay for gas at the pump.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway, and keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- When a child is missing, call 911 and check the inside of vehicles and car trunks immediately.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible. Spray the child with cool water. If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives and have someone else search for the parent.
This story was originally published in July 2014 and updated in July 2015 and June 2016.