Health experts are reminding parents about the dangers of leaving a child alone in a vehicle during these hot summer months.
As hot as it’s been outdoors lately, it’s even hotter inside a car.
It can be a dangerous — and deadly — situation for children left alone. It takes only minutes for a child inside a hot vehicle to be at risk of death or serious injury.
So far across the nation this year, 20 children have died after overheating in hot cars, the most deaths in the first half of a year since researchers began tracking such deaths in 1998.
To help prevent further tragedies, Delaware Congressman Mike Castle and Safe Kids New Castle County held a press conference Friday at the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children to promote the “Never Leave Your Child Alone” campaign.
Castle says particularly in these hot summer months, the inside of a car can heat up in a hurry.
“You leave the car and five minutes later it’s already started to heat up tremendously,” he said. “And 10 minutes later it could become dangerous. And for that reason all of us need to be conscious of this as we go about our activities in the summer.”
To demonstrate how quickly a vehicle can heat up, organizers placed a thermometer inside a car parked outside the hospital. In just 30 minutes the temperature rose from 96 to 118 degrees.
According to Dr. John Loiselle, chief of the Alfred I. DuPont Emergency Department, the risk is much greater for children. He says a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Loiselle says he’s seen first hand the tragic results of leaving a child in a hot car: “As a result of my experiences in the emergency department, now when I walk through any crowded parking lot I specifically look in cars to make sure there aren’t any young children or animals who’ve been left alone.”
Sean Elwell, Vice Chair of Delaware Safe Kids, says parents and caregivers need to be alert at all times, not just during the summer. He says the first death of the year in early March in Florida occurred on a day that reached only 73 degrees.
“This shows that even with relatively cool temperatures outside, the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes,” he said.
He says drivers must keep doors locked and keys out of reach from young children. Safe Kids New Castle County has a long list of additional tips to help keep children safe. Some of them include:
* Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car.
* Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
* 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 daycare.
* Teach children not to play in any vehicle.
* Lock all vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has exited the vehicle — especially at home.
* Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.
For more tips and information visit www.safekids.org.