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The Danger in Leaving Your Child in the Car Alone

It's more common than you think, you arrive home to find that your child has fallen asleep in the backseat of the car. You don't want to wake them, especially if they really needed that nap, so you leave them to wake up on their own. Seems safe, right?

According to statistics, heatstroke kills 38 children in the United States every year. Children die from being left in the car unattended. It's such an easily avoided tragedy, which is why deaths from this make the evening news. In some cases, those children may have used the car as a place to play or become trapped.

Issues With Leaving Children In The Car

  • Heat stroke, otherwise know as HYPERthermia is the greatest concern for children left in a car. Heat stroke damages the brain and other organs in the body. In some cases, unfortunately, it leads to death.

  • The temperature inside a car increases as much as 20 degrees in only 10 minutes - the typical amount of time a person would use to run inside a store "quickly" to retrieve food or other items.

  • A child's body temperature rises rapidly in these situations. When the temperature outside is only 70 degrees, heat stroke is still a danger for children as their body temperature can heat up 3 to 5 times that of an adult. Their bodies haven't developed the ability to cool down as well as adults yet.

  • Leaving the windows open provides little assistance in the matter, and does not prevent the temperature in a car from reaching lethal levels.

Additional Risks

  • Accidentally setting the car into motion, especially if a parking brake has not been applied.

  • Strangers taking your child.

How To Protect Your Child

Many newer cars come equipped with sensors and alarms that alert the driver if there is something left in the back seat after the car is turned off. If your car model doesn't include this, you may want to set up a system to remind yourself to check the back seat every time you turn off the car and get out.

  • Use your phone to remind you to be certain you've dropped the child at daycare or school

  • Put your coat, briefcase or purse in the back seat with the child to help remind you to check

  • You can request that your daycare call you if the child is a few minutes late

  • Use a larger sized stuffed animal to put in the car seat when your child is not in it. Move the toy to the front seat when the child is in the car and it can act as a reminder

  • Do not allow your child to play in the car - lock the doors when not in use, including the trunk

  • Call 911 immediately if you notice a child left alone in a car. If they appear to be in peril, attempt to release them as quickly as possible.

  • Check laws in your area regarding leaving children in cars and how you are allowed to act upon that situation. Some laws allow for you to break the car windows in another person's vehicle in order to save a child or a pet from heat stroke.


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