According to Safe Kids, at least one child dies every 10 days from heatstroke in the vehicle. Heatstroke happens when a child’s temperature becomes hot too quickly and is unable to cool itself. According to Healthy Children, children’s vital organs began to function improperly when their body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Also, a car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes and children’s bodies heat up two to three times faster than an adult does. A hot car can become very dangerous quickly. It doesn’t take a heat wave for heatstroke in a car to occur. The lowest outside temperature at which heatstroke can occur is 57 degrees. Even cracking a window, does not work in preventing heatstroke. The most common reason for child heatstroke in a parked vehicle is a parent forgetting to remove a child from the car. While this is easily preventable, it can happen to any parent. Usually, parents will forget a child in the car when a daily routine is interrupted or changed. Whether or not you think something like this could happen to you, it is important to take precautionary measures. Below are a few tips to help you remember to always remove your child from the car:
- Set reminders/alarms on your phone to alert you to remove your child from the car
- Always check the back seat before leaving the car
- Avoid distracted driving such as cell phone usage
- Lock your vehicle when you are not in the car to help prevent children from entering the car unattended
- Place a stuffed animal or toy in the car seat when your child is not riding in the car. Move it to the front seat as when the child is riding in the car to remind you to remove the child from the vehicle.
- Teach children cars are not safe places to play or hide in
- If your child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
- Have a plan with childcare provider: If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate the child. Have your childcare provider call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.
- If you see a child in a hot car, immediately call 911 and emergency personnel will guide on what to do.
In addition, a good Samaritan law that went into effect in Tennessee July 1, 2014, gives legal protection to those who attempt to remove a child from a vehicle for the sake of saving a life. According to the law, those who have a reasonable belief a child is in danger and have contacted law enforcement/fire department for assistance can forcibly enter a locked vehicle without fear of punishment (T.C.A. § 29-34-209)