With temperatures expected to rise into the 90s for the remainder of the week, the National Weather Service reminds motorists to "Look Before You Lock' in an effort to prevent the deaths of children and pets.
From 1998 to 2016, there were 700 fatalities nationwide resulting from being left in a hot car. Half of these were children who were forgotten by a parent or other caregiver, and nearly 20 percent died when parents knowingly left their child in a vehicle. The rest died playing in an unattended vehicle.
These deaths were caused by hyperthermia, which occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day with temperatures in the 70s.
Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The younger the child the more severe the effects because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate its internal temperature.
The following are basic safety recommendations for National Weather Service:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle — not even for a minute.
- If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- If a child is missing, always check the pool first, and then the car, including the trunk.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
- Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is put in the seat, place the animal in the front with the driver.
- Or, place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
- Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
- Ensure your child's school and/or child care provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.