With summer temperatures rising into the upper 90 degree mark this week, the North Carolina State Highway is reminding motorists of the dangers when a child is left unattended in a vehicle.
Every year, 35 to 40 children across the country die from heat exposure in vehicles and July is historically the deadliest month for child fatalities. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and a child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. Even a few minutes of heat exposure can be dangerous for a child. Sadly, many of these deaths are due to a parent accidentally forgetting that a child is still seated in their vehicle or the parent intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle unattended and in some cases, children crawl into a vehicle unnoticed.
However, these tragedies can be prevented by simply following a few simple safety tips provided by Safe Kids of NC:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.
- Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.
- Make an agreement with your child’s school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.
North Carolina does not currently have a “Good Samaritan law” to protect individuals who might break into a car to rescue a trapped child or pet. However, there is currently a bill sitting in the senate’s rules and operations committee that would allow someone to break into a car to rescue a trapped child without fear of civil penalty if certain criteria were met (which includes having called law enforcement. Representative Edward Hanes Jr (NC 72) is a primary sponsor of the bill, which can be found here: http://www.ncleg.net/
More data on children in hot cars can be found HERE: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/ChildrenAndCars/pages/Unattend-HotCars.htm
Additional safety information involving children can be found HERE: http://www.ncdoi.com/OSFM/SafeKids/