Children, pets need special attention while riding in cars during summer. public security

It is that time of year again where the temperature has started to get so hot that it is simply unbearable. These extra hot temperatures can pose a risk of heatstroke for children or pets that may be left behind in the car.

Sheldon Lyons, executive director of the St. Joseph’s Safety and Health Council, said children are at risk of heatstroke in cars in cooler weather than expected.

“It’s a lot less than you think, actually,” Lyon said. “Depending on the conditions, a child may overheat and be in trouble if the outside air temperature is 60 degrees.”

That being said, Lyon said it’s important to never leave children or pets in cars. This issue is only emphasized in the summer because cars heat up quickly, leaving less time for children to be at risk.

“It doesn’t take long for that to happen,” Lyon said. “We’re talking a relatively short time for the car to warm up so that the child becomes distressed.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 50 children died from vehicular heatstroke in 2018 and again in 2019. In 2020 when everyone was forced to stay at home, half of them lost their lives. So far five children have died in 2021.

Leon said that children are forgotten in cars more than one might imagine. This usually happens when parents are doing something outside their routine, he said. If parents are not accustomed to leaving the child alone and their mornings are busy, it is possible to forget the child in the back seat, he said.

“Just take your time. Think about what you’re doing,” Lyon said. “If it’s something outside of what you normally do, think about ‘Have I checked all the boxes before continuing?'”

The NHTSA said that about 46% of the time when a child is forgotten in a hot car, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare or preschool. The end of the work week is also when such deaths are highest.

There are several things caretakers can do to remind themselves of the kids in the back seat. Lyon recommends keeping a purse, lunchbox or any other item an adult will need when exiting the car in the back seat so that he or she is forced to look at that area before exiting.

There are also apps that can be downloaded that will help remind someone to check the back seat. If a parent knows he or she is doing something out of routine, someone else can call when that person needs to be at the destination.

If someone sees a child alone in a vehicle, the NHTSA recommends first checking to see if the child appears fine. If so, try to locate a parent or give someone a car owner’s page.

If the child is unresponsive or is in distress, call 9-1-1 and try to get in the car to help the child, even if it means breaking a window.

Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett said Missouri has Good Samaritan laws that would protect someone who gets into a car to save a child.

“It’s so important to go in and get that kid out of the hot car,” Puett said. “We want to protect and protect our children.”

Puett said it is important that law enforcement is called in in a scenario like this. This allows the child to receive medical treatment immediately and have an officer there when the owner of the car comes back and sees that the vehicle was damaged in the rescue effort.

Leon also said that parents should never leave a child in the car, even if they think they will just come back. He said there is always the possibility of the car dying and shutting down the air, turning into another hot car situation.

“If we’re going to get out of the car and go somewhere, we take our kid with us,” Leon said. “Get them out of the car seat, get them in, do your due diligence and make sure you’re parenting the way you know you should.”

Leon also said to be careful when driving with a child in a car without air conditioning. If a car does not have an AC, he suggests driving only in the morning or evening, when the temperature is cooler.

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