Sadly, it is not uncommon these days to hear stories on the news about children who have passed away as a result of accidentally being left inside a hot car by a parent or caretaker. In fact, an average of 37 children pass away each year as a result of pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH). And while these incidents are certainly more common during the hot summer months, they can occur in warmer areas of the country (such as here in Texas) any time of year.
By having a better understanding of just how quickly temperatures can become deadly inside a car and by following some simple yet effective precautions, parents and caretakers can keep children safer and avoid becoming a devastating statistic.
How Quickly Can a Car Interior Reach Dangerous Temperatures?
What many people don’t realize is just how quickly the inside of a vehicle can reach dangerous temperatures, even when it’s not extremely hot outside. In fact, did you know that it takes just 10 minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to increase by 20 degrees? This means that even on an 80-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 100 degrees in about the time it takes to make a “quick” grocery run or complete another typical errand.
Combine this with the fact that children are especially susceptible to PVH, and it doesn’t take long for the inside of a vehicle on a warm day to become potentially fatal to a small child. In fact, researchers have found that at around 104 degrees, toddlers are at an extreme risk of heat-related illness that can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and even death.
Protecting Little Ones from Tragic Accidents
The good news is that these types of tragic accidents are 100% preventable, and there are several steps that caretakers and parents can take to protect their young children from the dangers of being left in a hot car.
Perhaps one of the easiest things guardians can do to avoid accidentally leaving a child in a hot car is to get into the habit of leaving something important in the back seat of the vehicle while driving. Most people will not leave their cars without first thinking to grab their cell phone, wallet, or purse. By leaving one of these items in the back seat, it is also less likely that they will forget about a sleeping infant or toddler.
Often times, these tragedies occur when a caretaker is thrown off from their usual routine—so it’s also a good idea to have a “system” in place for reminding oneself when a child is in the car outside of that routine, such as setting an alarm or other type of reminder on one’s phone.
It is also worth noting that technologies are being developed to help reduce the chances that children will be left in hot cars. For example, some car seats now have “smart” chest clips that will detect when a child has been left inside a car after the vehicle has been shut off and send an alert to a connected smartphone or mobile device. These technologies, combined with greater awareness, can hopefully help to cut down on these preventable tragedies in the future.
If you have any questions or concerns about a personal injury case in the Austin area, The Evans Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.