What Happens When You Leave Your Baby Alone in the Hot Car

It’ll never happen to you, right? How could anyone forget their baby in the car? The reality is, it happens every summer and not just once or twice. On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year nationwide. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you and your family never become part of that scary statistic. It’ll only be a minute Let’s face it, sometimes it takes longer to get your kid out of the car seat than it would to pop into the store by yourself. That doesn’t matter. It’s never ok to leave your child alone in the car. Not even for a minute. Not even with the windows rolled down, or the air conditioning left on. Children’s bodies make more heat than adults, and they aren’t able to cool themselves down as well as we can[1].

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If you’re thinking it isn’t that hot out today and you’ll be ok…think again. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even when it’s only in the 80s outside the temperature inside a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes, even with a window cracked. Heat isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. If you leave your little one in a car with the car running to keep it cool, you’re advertising a vehicle with keys in the ignition to any thief. Imagine if someone stole your vehicle with your baby inside. Was that worth saving that extra minute? Think about what it feels like Have you ever gotten inside a car that’s been sitting in the sun on a hot day? It’s pretty miserable, right? Now imagine sitting in that car while it gets hotter and hotter, and not being able to do anything about it. This heartbreaking reenactment shows what it’s like for a child. After seeing this, you know leaving a kid in the car isn’t an option.

Friendly Reminders Have you ever gotten to work and realized you don’t remember driving there? We all go on auto pilot at some point, and in many cases that’s how children get left in cars. Maybe mom usually takes Billy to daycare but Dad was in charge today, and Dad drove straight to work, forgetting his son was in the back seat. So what can you do? Kids and Cars, an organization dedicated to raising public awareness and preventing these deaths, gives these 10 tips 2 to keep kids safe.

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute
  • Look before you lock – get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.
  • Create a reminder to check the back seat.
    • Put something you’ll need like your phone, purse, even your left shoe in the back seat. That way you’ll have to open the back door to get it before you leave your vehicle.
    • Keep a large stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
  • Make sure you have a strict policy with your daycare about drop-offs. Everyone involved in taking care of your child needs to know where they are. If your little one won’t be in daycare, it’s your job to call and let them know. If your child doesn’t show up, your daycare provider promises to call you right away to make sure they’re safe.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages.
  • Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
  • If a child goes missing, immediately check inside every vehicle and trunk in the area, even if they’re locked. A child may lock the doors after entering on their own, but might not be able to unlock them.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 right away. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
  • Be extra careful during busy times, schedule changes and stressful times or holidays. That’s when many tragedies happen.
  • Use drive-thru services when you can and pay for gas at the pump.

Credit: Ipatov/Shutterstock
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you, go outside and sit inside your car. Don’t start the engine, don’t turn on the AC. Just sit, and see how long it takes for you to get uncomfortable. Now realize you can get out when it’s too much, but a child strapped in a car seat is helpless. It’s so important to do everything you can to make sure it never happens to your family.

[1] http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/hot-cars-and-child-death-prevention 2 http://www.kidsandcars.org/userfiles/dangers/heat-stroke-fact-sheet.pdf

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