Grim statistics reveal that 37 children die each year in heat-related tragedies in cars across the United States. This adds up to over 600 deaths since 1998, with only Texas having more incidences than Florida. Armed with this information, parents and caretakers need to be aware of the danger of leaving children in hot cars.
It takes approximately 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to increase by 20 degrees, and even less time in heat wave conditions. Cranking a window down or parking in the shade has little or no effect in such extremes. The message is clear; the only guarantee of avoiding tragic heat-related incidents in vehicles is not to leave children alone at any time. The argument applies equally to the elderly, the disabled, and pets.
Looking at the numbers
Here are some important facts to consider:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that heatstroke is the cause of 61% of non-crash fatalities in children under the age of 14.
- Children under the age of one year are the most common victims.
- According to researchers at the San Francisco State University, heatstroke deaths in cars occur in every month with the exception of January.
- An outside temperature of 57 degrees can induce heat stroke. When the outside temperature reaches 80 degrees, temperatures inside the vehicle can reach deadly peaks in 10 minutes.
- Remember that a child’s body temperature can rise five times faster than that of an adult, and a child can die when his or her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Prevention is the only option
Each parent and caregiver needs to adopt the mindset of never leaving a child alone in a car. This precautionary approach offers the only failsafe guarantee of avoiding tragedy. In more than half the incidents of hot car deaths in children, the responsible person forgot about the child in the back seat of the vehicle.
Know your responsibility
Invent a fail-proof way of checking that your child never faces the risk of remaining alone in a hot car. A “headcount” should be an automatic reaction every time you stop somewhere and leave your car, even for the briefest of moments. Think of your responsibility every time you remove the key from the car’s ignition.
On leaving your vehicle, and before closing the driver’s door, get into the habit of walking around your vehicle and looking inside. Only lock your car after conducting a proper check. Above all, avoid distractions from other people and cell phones at this important moment so you can stay focused.
At The Fernandez Firm, we care about families. As trial lawyers, we have always protected American families and will continue to do so. Your initial consultation is always without cost, so give us a call or fill out our free case evaluation to see how we can help you during this difficult time.