Don’t leave children, pets in hot cars

This week is cloudy, dull and promises to be wet, but the thermometer will again see soaring temperatures as spring takes hold and summer fast approaches. When the weather gets warm, do not leave children and pets unattended in automobiles. As temperatures rise, your vehicle becomes an oven inside. That heat can kill. Even when the weather outside your car is in the 60s, the temperature inside can climb to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes, the agency said. Hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke, is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14. Children's bodies absorb heat at least three to five times the rate of adults. Thus, they overheat more easily. Also, they are less able to cool themselves through sweat. Children under age four are at the greatest risk of heat-related illness. Here are some tips for drivers to live by when they're in charge of the safety and well-being of children:
  • Never leave children or pets in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked open or with the engine and air conditioning running.
  • People elected to take children to daycare when they are not used to that task should have the child's (other) parent call to make sure things went to plan. Have the daycare provider call if the child doesn't show up as scheduled.
  • Have a toy or stuffed animal in plain view to remind the driver that there is a child buckled up in the back seat. Perhaps, write a reminder note that the child is in the car.
  • Put something important like a purse or briefcase in the back seat. When the item is retrieved, so too will the baby.
  • Get into the habit of checking the front and back seat of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.
  • Keep vehicle doors and truck locked, and keys out of children's reach at all times. If a child goes missing, check the automobile first, including the trunk.
  • When a child is in distress, she or he may be red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Remove the child from the car quickly and cool them down as soon as possible. Dial 911 and seek medical assistance.
  • If you see a child or pet alone in a hot vehicle, call the police.
Learn more at http://www.nhtsa.gov/safety/hyperthermia. The information is available in both English and Spanish.  
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