With summer officially beginning on June 21st, temperatures are starting to rise. July is usually the hottest month out of the year and this was even more true last year when a new record was set. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded in human history. As temperatures rise so does the risk of heatstroke, especially for vulnerable children and animals left alone in vehicles. Since 1998, 912 children have died from Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH).
Even if you’re not a parent or a caregiver, you can still do your part in preventing a tragedy. Always make sure to lock your car doors to avoid unattended children going into your vehicle. And if you see a child alone in a car, call 911, then try to get them out immediately. The same goes for dogs and other animal companions. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) states that in 2021, 59 animals died after being left in hot cars, and those are just the ones that were reported.
All hot car deaths can be prevented. Whether we are parents, caretakers, or just bystanders, we can all be alert and aware to make sure the number of hot car deaths for both children and animals no longer rises.
With summer just a few months away we have a few tips to make your summer a safe one.
Summer brings sunnier days and sunnier days make for harsh sun glare. Sun glare can be extremely dangerous while driving. The NHTSA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that sun glare is the cause of approximately 9,000 accidents per year. Make sure to have a pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes, but be sure to avoid frames with wide side pieces that reduce your ability to see to the side!
With summer also comes heat and we tend to change our choice of footwear to something lighter. While flip-flops are great for the pool or for walking along the beach, they can be a hazard while driving since they can get stuck underneath the brake or the accelerator. Experts even claim that flip-flops can actually double the time that it takes for a driver to brake. Flip-flop accidents are not that rare. In 2013, a study was conducted and it turned out that 7% of drivers who were polled had actually crashed or nearly caused a crash because of the flimsy sandals!
Have a safe summer and another quick summer reminder: Never leave children or animals in the car unattended. The temperatures in a vehicle can reach dangerously high temperatures in just minutes.
‘Look Before You Lock’ PSA from KidsAndCars.org is a good reminder to not leave children in cars in order to avoid heatstroke fatalities. In a new study, Consumer Reports found that, “Even on days with mild temperatures, the heat inside a closed vehicle can reach dangerous levels within an hour, posing major health risks to small children or pets left inside.”
For additional tips and information, check out our past posts Vehicular Heatstroke and Supervision Required.
On average in the United States, 37 children die from heatstroke each year as a result of being left in a vehicle. Between 1990 and 2016 there have been a total of 793 vehicular heatstroke deaths. Over half (55%) are a result of being left behind unknowingly by a parent or caregiver. Another 28% occurred due to a child getting into the vehicle on their own.
According to KidsAndCars.org, 27 children have died in hot cars so far this year. The KidsAndCars.org safety campaign, “Look Before You Lock,” provides parents and caregivers an important safety checklist aimed at preventing heatstroke tragedies.
Avoid leaving your child alone in the car:
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door and checking the back seat before leaving your vehicle.
- Put something you will need, like a purse or a cell phone, in the back seat so you will have to open the back door to get it once you are parked.
- Keep a stuffed animal in baby’s car seat. Each time your child is in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder that baby is in the car.
- Ask your child care provider to call if you have not dropped your child off as usual.
Make sure your child can’t get into your car:
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in your garage or driveway.
- Keep your keys and clickers in a safe place out of your child’s reach.
- If your child goes missing, check inside your vehicle and trunk right away.