CLEVELAND, OH-- It's heartbreaking to hear news of a small child dying in a hot car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 38 heatstroke deaths happen each year in the United States, and about half involve a loving parent or caregiver forgetting about a sleeping young child in the backseat.
Children left in parked cars, even for a short period of time, are at risk for heatstroke, even when it feels cool outside. In direct sunlight, a car's windows act like a greenhouse and trap sun and heat, making it brutally hot in a matter of minutes.
Dr. Purva Grover said, "a child's body's temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult's. Even when with the window slightly down, the car temperature can reach to 125 degrees within minutes. That's scorching and that can lead to heat strokes, heat exhaustions, and kids left in the car alone for small or extended periods of time can be fatal."
The bottom line is to never leave your child in the car alone for any period of time. Most hot car deaths are accidental, but there are a few things you can do to help prevent this type of tragedy. Experts recommend setting up a system with your child's caregiver to call you if he or she doesn't show up by a certain time.
Leaving a stuffed animal in the front seat while your baby is in the back, will also help remind you your child is still there. You can leave daily reminders in the backseat that force you to look, before you leave.
"Sometimes if you leave a key item of your being so cell phone, wallet, bag on the backseat or on the ground then you are liable to open the door to look for it and then that's when you can see that your child is there."
A careful community with good intentions can go a long way. If you see a child in a parked car, get help and immediately call 9-1-1. Curious children may sneak into an unlocked car to play and get locked in, so if your child is playing outside and disappears for a few minutes, check the car immediately, including the trunk.