“Look before you lock.”
Every driver with a child in a vehicle needs to know these words. About 37 children die each year from heatstroke or hyperthermia after being left in cars, according to Kids and Cars, a safety and advocacy organization to prevent children from dying in hot cars.
From 1998 to 2016, 45 children have overheated and died in cars in California, according to noheatstroke.org and the National Safety Council. On a per capita basis, California ranks 46th out of 50 states for children dying from heatstroke in cars. The higher the number, the more children who die in hot cars per 1,000,000 people in the state.
Just over half the children who die from being left in hot cars are under the age of 2. A little over half are left in cars unintentionally and 17% are left intentionally. About 28% were playing in a car without an adult around.
The “look before you lock” campaign, led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aims to prevent the 54% of deaths where children are forgotten by caregivers. Sometimes a toddler falls asleep in a day care van and sometimes a parent forgets that he unexpectedly took the baby along while driving older kids to school. The tragic circumstances vary.
Parents need to know that any parent or caregiver, in certain circumstances, could leave a child locked in a car. If every adult routinely checks every seat in a car before locking it, many lives will be saved. While many more children die in car accidents, lawyers know that other vehicle-related deaths happen all too frequently.
How to prevent children from dying in hot cars
Newer cars are equipped with several types of electronic safety features to reduce deaths from car accidents. Some are also equipped with sensors to prevent children from dying in locked cars. One safety device, a seat-reminder system, detects when a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started or if those doors are opened and closed while the motor is running. When the vehicle is shut off, a sound and visual reminder indicates that the driver needs to check the back seat. Similar systems can be added to cars that do not have them built in.
One infant car seat connects the car seat fastener to the car’s data port. If the chest clip on the car seat is not unhooked, a chime sounds. Another option is sensor pads for car seats. These can alert a driver if she moves more than 15 feet from the car without removing the child from the car seat.
Low tech options are also recommended to prevent children from being left in cars. A driver can keep a large stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, the animal is placed in the front seat where the driver can easily see it. Another tip is to place something drivers must take with them, such as a briefcase or cell phone, in the back seat where the child sits.
In what weather will a car get too hot?
Drivers should know that children stuck in a car can die from heat stroke in even mild temperatures. When temperatures outside are in the low 80s, like they are much of the time in Cerritos and the surrounding areas, temperatures inside a car can become deadly hot within 10 minutes. Children have died from hyperthermia in cars even when outside temperatures have been in the 60s. Cracking the windows slightly slows the rate at which the temperature will rise, but it will not stop the car from becoming hot enough to kill a child. The temperature rises fastest in the first 10 minutes, so even leaving a child in the car “for a few minutes” causes a deadly threat to the child’s life.
Just as drivers take precautions to prevent car crashes, drivers need to prevent deaths in parked cars. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a vehicle, get the help that you need from the car accident lawyers at Cerritos Legal. Call today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.