Terrible Conditions Await Children and Pets in Hot Cars
So far this year, 26 children have died of heatstroke after being left in a parked vehicle. Cities all across this country are now seeing record-breaking temperatures and will be for weeks. Even Denver is experiencing incredibly hot temperatures, reaching an all-time heat record last month as the temperature flirted with the 100-degree mark. In mere minutes, a parked vehicle can turn deadly, and sadly, for too many children, it has.
More than 40 children died last year after being left in a hot car.
On average, more than 37 children suffer from pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) each year. Sadly, 2017 was an above-average year when 43 children died due to PVH, and if early reports in 2018 are any indication, this year is going to be tragic for way too many children as well. 26 children have died this year due to PVH with most of those deaths occurring in the Northeast and Gulf South areas.
However, Coloradans should not become complacent about this issue. Just last month in Grand Junction, an infant had to be rescued from a car after the mother of the child forgot the baby was there. A decade-long research study showed that more than half of the children killed by PVH died because the caregiver completely forgot that the child was in the vehicle. The same research showed that in 18 percent of the PVH death cases, an adult intentionally left the child in a vehicle.
It’s not just children being left either. The same day the child was pulled from the car in Grand Junction, another couple in Grand Junction left two dogs in a van, forcing passersby to contact county animal service personnel for help. Despite having windows rolled down and a sunroof open, officials determined that the temperature in the van measured more than 100 degrees, which put the dogs in danger.
What needs to be understood is what exactly happens when a car is parked in the heat. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes and as much as 50 degrees in an hour. Weather officials also note that even cracking the windows will provide little relief. It’s vital that you never leave a child or animal in the car because, despite your precautions, it just doesn’t help when the sun is beating down on a vehicle.
Common sense and simple reminders can keep children safe and prevent PVH.
For parents or caregivers who are trying to juggle many things, forgetfulness is not uncommon, even when it comes to forgetting something as precious as your child. Minds wander, multi-tasking is commonplace, and accidents can happen. If you are among those trying to do too much and have a small child, there are many simple things you can do to make sure you don’t forget there is a child in the backseat:
- Put something your child loves next to you in the front seat as a reminder that your child is in the car.
- Leave something you need, like your briefcase or cell phone, on the back seat, so you see the child once you’ve parked.
- Download an app to your phone that will work as a child safety reminder once the car is turned off.
All of these simple tasks are good and easy to follow. The most important thing is keeping children and animals safe when they are in the car. During the summer months, using reminder techniques and common sense will go a long way.