The total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars is 11 for 2009. Most of the children were strapped in child safety seats and left behind or forgotten by an adult, while others gained access to an unlocked car and could not escape.
“Leaving a child in a vehicle, even for a ‘quick’ errand, is never a good idea. A delay of just a few minutes on a warm day can lead to tragedy,” said ODPS Director Henry Guzmán. “Heat is much more dangerous to children than it is to adults and leaving a child in a hot vehicle could cause permanent injury or even death.”
When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. According to research conducted by San Francisco State University, even with relatively cool temperatures outside - 70 degrees - the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes.
The research also revealed that more than a third of the children studied were accidentally left behind in a closed, parked car by parents or caregivers and another third of these children were trapped while playing in a vehicle unattended. One in five children who died was intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.
To avoid these tragedies in Ohio, the Division of EMS and Safe Kids Ohio is offering the following tips to keeps kids safe this summer:
Teach children not to play in, on or around vehicles.
Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
Always lock a vehicle’s doors and trunk - especially at home. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children’s reach.
Watch children closely around vehicles, particularly when loading and unloading. Check to ensure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination. Don’t overlook sleeping infants.
Be especially careful if you’re dropping off infants or children at day care and that’s not part of your normal routine.
Place something that you’ll need at your next stop - for example a purse, lunch, gym bag or briefcase - on the floor of the backseat where the child is sitting. This simple act could prevent you from accidentally forgetting a child.
If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.