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The Dangers of Leaving a Child Unattended in a Hot Car

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Photo courtesy of Katherine Kala

Philadelphia in the summer is exciting, filled with free concerts, baseball games and other outdoor events.

It’s also notorious for being hot and humid. It’s the type of hot where you walk outside and are immediately drenched in sweat. At times, it can be unbearable.

As a parent or caregiver, it’s important that we take care of not only ourselves during these heat waves, but also our most precious cargo: our children.

WebMD says there have been 600 infant deaths since 1990 because they were left unattended in vehicles with high temperatures. These tragedies can be easily avoided if we understand the severe consequences of leaving children unattended in scorching vehicles.

 Though the outside temperature may seem brutal, our car interiors can be up to 40 degrees hotter. Think about that— 40 degrees hotter! Combine that with an infant’s body temperature — which rises three times faster than an adult’s. If anyone’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, there’s a risk of having a heat stroke with the possibility of irreversible brain damage. So as you park your car in the blistering heat this summer, be on the safe side and follow the tips listed below.

 Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe:

  • Don’t leave your child in the car alone, even if the windows are cracked.

  • Lock the doors and trunk after everyone is out of the car.

  • Keep the car keys out of the reach of children.

  • Place a stuffed toy in the child’s car seat when not in use, and move the toy to the front passenger seat when the child is in his/her seat as a reminder that the child is in the vehicle.

  • Teach children not to play in or around vehicles and to alert an adult when a friend is playing in a vehicle without supervision.

  • Make sure children also understand the dangers of trunk entrapment (suffocation, heat stroke, and hypothermia).

 If you’re a bystander:

  • Call 911 immediately if you see a child unattended in car

 Though it may not be intentional, many parents do leave their children unattended in hot vehicles. As the Philadelphia summer continues to heat up, follow these steps and you’ll greatly reduce the risks warm weather can have on children.

 Click here, for more information on the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a parked car.

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