Warm weather brings with it sad news: report after report that a child has died of heat stroke while trapped alone in a vehicle.
Believe it or not, it can happen in February,but starting in March, the numbers begin to skyrocket. These tragedies affect mostly infants and toddlers, but it can happen to young children as well.
Last year was the worst year on record: 49 children died of hyperthermia in 2010. About half had been forgotten on the way to childcare. The rest were either playing in an unattended car and were unable to get out, or were intentionally left by an adult "for just a few minutes."
"Couldn't happen to me," you say? Of course, that's what every parent says, including those who experience it at some later date.
It could happen to you. But these deaths are preventable – not inevitable. Take a moment to learn how to keep your kids safe with simple prevention tips.
SAFETY TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
- Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car, on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings
- Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
- Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
- Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care. Teach children not to play in any vehicle.
- Lock all vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has exited the vehicle – especially at home. Keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are not playgrounds or babysitters.
- Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child goes missing.