Tag: hot cars

Reducing the Risk of Hot Car Deaths

Good Samaritan laws can offer protection if you help a child in a hot car in an emergency. Call 911 and get the child out of the hot car if you need to.
Good Samaritan laws can offer protection if you help a child in a hot car in an emergency. Call 911 and get the child out of the hot car if you need to.

In the United States, about 37 children die each year in hot cars.

Few are left in the car intentionally.

About half are accidents. Parents who forgot that the child was still in the car.

Many of the deaths are kids who got into the car and couldn’t get out.

All are tragic.

Kids in Hot Cars

How can you forget a child in a car?

Especially a car that might heat up to the point that a child can quickly die inside?

Although many people find it unbelievable that it can happen, it happens just the same.

People, once they are out of their very rigid routine, forget to drop a child off at daycare or that their child is still in the car.

“On days when the ambient temperature was 72°F, we showed that the internal vehicle temperature can reach 117°F within 60 minutes, with 80% of the temperature rise occurring in the first 30 minutes.”

Catherine McLaren on Heat Stress From Enclosed Vehicles

And remember, it doesn’t even have to be that hot outside for a car to quickly heat up.

How Hot Car Deaths Happen

It’s easy to see how some hot car deaths happen.

These are the deaths that are borne out of parental negligence. The kids who are left in a car while their parents party or shop.

But then you have the story of the mom who forgot to drop off her 7-month-old – dad usually drops her off – and doesn’t notice that she is still in the car until she picks up her son at daycare after work.

Or the child forgotten in a car after a family returns home.

Some deaths occur at daycare – kids left on a bus or van.

And sometimes kids get trapped in a car that had been unlocked.

Reducing the Risk of Hot Car Deaths

To help reduce the risk of these tragic hot car deaths, it might help to:

  • never leave your child alone in any vehicle, not even for a minute
  • lock your car and secure the keys so that your kids can’t get into your car and play by themselves
  • check the inside (after checking nearby bodies of water) of nearby vehicles, including their trunks, when a child goes missing
  • make sure your daycare provider alerts you if your child doesn’t show up
  • place reminders in the back seat with your child, so that even if you forget to drop off your child on the way to work, you will notice once you get to work and gather your things
  • bring your kids inside the house before anything else, so that you are less likely to get distracted and forget them outside
  • have a designated watcher if you have a lot of kids, especially if they are in multiple cars, to make sure everyone gets inside and no one is left in the car
  • call 911 if you see a child alone in any vehicle and get them out as soon as possible if they are not responsive or they are in distress
  • push for automakers to include standard devices in all cars to prevent hot car deaths

Most importantly, remember that it can happen to anyone, so be extra careful when you break your routine and always “look before you leave” or lock your car.

What To Know About Hot Car Deaths

Look before you lock and learn other way to reduce your child’s risk of a hot car death.

More About Hot Car Deaths

Multiple Layers of Protection Can Keep Your Kids Safe

Parents are well aware of the need to use protection to keep important things safe.

After all, we build our homes thinking about fire protection, with firewalls and smoke detectors, plug our computers into surge protectors, and use virus protection software on our computers.

The same type of protection, usually grouped into a layers of protection plan, can also help keep your kids safe.

Layers of Protection

Using a layers of protection approach to child safety means using more than type of child safety technique, barrier, or warning, as a protection against a specific hazard. That way, if one protective layer breaks down, then one of the other layers of protection will still be in place to keep your kids safe.

Of course these layers of protection aren’t meant to keep your kids safe forever. They can buy you some time though if your child gets away from you for a few moments.

“…parents ought to appreciate the importance of applying multiple injury prevention strategies to a single category of risk, to provide children with layers of protection.”

Mark Widome, MD

Although often used in connection with the pool safety campaigns of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was mentioned as early as 1992 by Mark Widome, MD, who is on the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention.

Layers of Protection for Water Safety

The concept of using layers of protection is often easiest to see when you think about water safety.

Consider some common drowning scenarios:

  • A 23-month-old in Redford Township near Detroit, Michigan, drowned by getting out of the house (the family was visiting friends) and climbing a ladder into an above-ground pool that only had about two feet of water in it.
  • A 3-year-old drowned in La Plata, Maryland during a birthday party while several other people were in the pool. When some started to get out of the pool, they noticed the child at the bottom of the deep end of the pool.
  • An 8-year-old drowned in a busy community pool near Indianapolis, IN.

To help prevent these types of drownings, the CPSC and the AAP recommend a layers of protection plan for water and pool safety, that includes:

  • close, constant, direct supervision of small children near water, whether it is a lake, pond, in-ground pool, spa, large portable pool, small wading pool, bathtub, or even a large bucket of water, etc.
  • closer “touch supervision” whenever an infant, toddler, or older child who is a weak swimmer is in the water, meaning that you are within an arm’s length of the child at all times.
  • installing a climb resistant isolation fence (a 4-sided fence that doesn’t allow direct access to the pool from inside the house) around backyard pools with a self-closing and self-latching gate.
  • adding a door alarm so that you know if your kids get out of the house and into the backyard, especially if your house makes up one of the four sides of the fence around your pool. A gate or pool alarm might also be useful.
  • making younger children wear a coast guard approved personal flotation device if they don’t know how to swim well and not just air-filled arm floaties. They should wear their personal flotation device whenever they are by the water, even if they are not swimming.
  • teaching kids to learn to swim, especially once they are 4-years-old, keeping in mind that knowing how to swim does not make your child drown-proof.
  • learning CPR, having a flotation device, and a telephone by the pool in case there is an emergency.

Also be sure to empty buckets of water, the bathtub, small kiddie wading pools, and other things with water when you are not using them.

Layers of Protection Work

How do the layers of protection work to reduce the risks of a drowning?

Consider a house with a fully childproofed pool. It has a 4-sided fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. The door leading to the backyard is childproofed so that the twin toddlers who live in the home can’t open it. During a recent pool party, they even have a designated adult watching the kids in the pool.

When that person has to go to the bathroom, she asks someone else to take over. The new watcher isn’t as responsible though and gets distracted when he gets a phone call (one layer gone). One of the twins who had been inside, decides she wants to swim again. She walks to the backyard right through the door that someone had left open (another layer gone), through the open gate (yet another layer gone), and jumps into the pool without anyone seeing her.

The gate to the pool had been propped open during the party because people got tired of opening it every time they went from the pool to the house, and unfortunately, this breakdown in pool safety is a common way that kids drown. Fortunately, because the parents were using a layers of protection plan, the child was still safe, as she was still wearing her personal flotation device (last layer intact).

Layers of Protection for Home Safety

How can the layers of protection protect your kids at home?

For one thing, you can simply get rid of some of the things that are unsafe around kids, such as poisonous plants, unused household cleaners or poisons, and recalled products.

Next, add a few extra layers of protection when childproofing the house, since you can’t be expected to supervise your kids every second of the day:

  • install child-resistant door knob covers so that kids can’t get into rooms that are hard to child proof, like the bathroom
  • set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees, so that if your child does get into the bathroom and turns on the water he won’t get burned
  • store household cleaners and other poisonous substances in a high, out of reach location and then put a child-resistant lock on the cabinet for an extra layer of protection
  • place TVs and other appliances on stable furniture that won’t easily tip over, but as an extra layer of protection, anchor both the TV and furniture to the wall
  • lock your car so that your kids can’t get back in (hot cars, especially getting trapped in the trunk, is a common hidden danger for kids), and then secure your keys for an extra layer of protection

The layers of protection idea can even apply to car safety, In addition to an age appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belts, and keeping your kids in the back seat until they are at least 13-years-old, you can add to your family’s safety in the car by not getting distracted talking on your phone or texting.

What extra layers of protection can you add to other risks in and around your home?

More Information On Layers of Protection