As temperatures climb, it is important to recognize that children’s bodies overheat easily and infants and children under age 4 are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses. Parents and caregivers of young children should especially keep in mind that vehicles heat up quickly and can be extremely dangerous for children.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) offers the following safety tips to keep Oklahoma children safe in cars during extreme heat:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time, even if the windows are open. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to more than 140°F when the outside temperature is 101°F, and a child’s body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s body temperature.
- Check the back seat! Check to make sure all children are taken out of the vehicle when you reach your destination. More than 50 percent of cases of children dying in hot cars occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot that a child was in the back seat.
- If you are transporting a child and it is not normally in your routine, set up a reminder for yourself—a phone call from a friend or spouse, a note on the vehicle dashboard, or place something you need for the day (such as a purse, briefcase, or cell phone) in the back seat so you will check the back seat and see the child before you leave the vehicle.
- If you are transporting children and cargo, such as groceries, take children from the vehicle first.
- Keep vehicle doors and trunks closed and locked. Up to one-third of these heat-related deaths occurred when a child was playing in an unlocked vehicle and became trapped inside.
- Keep vehicle keys out of reach and out of sight. Teach children not to play in or around vehicles.
- Teach children that vehicle trunks are not safe places to play or hide. Show children how to use the emergency trunk release if they become trapped inside.
- If you see a child alone in a locked, parked car, immediately call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance. Also, even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20°F within the first 10 minutes.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—http://www.nhtsa.gov/KeepingKidsSafe
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/
- Kids and Cars—http://www.kidsandcars.org/