Hot Vehicles and Child Safety: A Preventable Tragedy

a baby left inside of a car
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Summer has arrived, and with it comes certain heat-associated dangers. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter spoke out, reminding people to never leave their children or pets unattended in vehicles.

Leaving Children in Hot Cars is a Preventable Tragedy

“This is a preventable tragedy,” said Attorney General Hunter. “It’s important for Oklahomans to know that children and pets are more vulnerable to heatstroke. Caregivers need to make sure they are getting children and pets out of the car, even if they think they will only be away from their car for a second. With modern technology and free resources from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is no excuse to leave a child or pet behind.”

According to the NHTSA, it only takes 10 minutes for a car’s temperature to rise by 20 degrees. That means when temperatures are in the 80s, the inside of a car can quickly reach close to 125 degrees within just 60 minutes. When a person’s core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, heatstroke begins.

Safety Tips to Help Remember Your Child or Pet is in the Backseat

  • Try to keep one of your important belongings like your purse or cellphone in the backseat.
  • Make it a habit to open the back door every time you get out of your car whether your child or pet is inside or not.
  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times so your children cannot accidentally get trapped inside when you aren’t using it.
  • Keep a stuffed animal inside of your car. Place it in the car seat when it isn’t occupied and move it to the front seat when the car seat IS occupied.

Actions Bystanders Should Take If They Notice a Child or Pet Inside a Hot Vehicle

  • Act quickly. Your main concern is the safety of the child or animal inside of the vehicle.
  • Quickly assess the health of the child or pet and take down any details about the car’s make, model, description, and location. You’ll want this information handy if you need to call 911.
  • If the car is located near a business, have the store manager use the intercom to try quickly locating the car’s owner.
  • If the owner does not respond quickly, call 911.
  • Take note of whether the child or pet’s health seems to be deteriorating. In this case, you’ll need to take more drastic measures. Find at least one other person to help you make this assessment, then take action by any means necessary to get the child or pet out of the hot vehicle.
  • Check for signs of heatstroke, which can include panting, excessive sweating, lethargy, vomiting, and a lack of coordination.
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