Saving a child from a hot car: Tips for keeping your kids safe in the summer heat

Recently, Riverside County sheriffs rescued a young boy from a hot car after the doors could not open.

The deputies had to break the car window to save the child and reunite them with their parents. They urge you to check your locks to make sure they are working.

Some cars come equipped with technology to alert you before you go outside. “The sign on the machine says beep beep beep — check the back seat,” said Graham Quinn, who is visiting the valley. “But for something like that in a car just to remind the parents, you know, because sometimes they’re busy and the kids can fall asleep in the back and forget about them.”

Quinn told News Channel 3 that he had to use multiple cars when traveling out of town. At one point, he accidentally left his keys in the car. “I couldn’t get in the car. So I had to wait for half an hour for a guy with a key to get into the car to take me to the car.”

Fortunately, no one was inside. But he said if he had been there, it would have been very dangerous. “Little kid out there probably won’t last.”

It’s also a reminder that in three-digit temperatures, the interior of your car gets hotter. If it’s 100 degrees outside, it only takes 10 minutes for your car’s interior to reach 119 degrees.

For Nicole Holt, the mother of a young child, she told News Channel 3 that she is very careful when her child is with her. “We have a little travel fan that we put on her car seat and get dressed appropriately,” Holt said.

Holt said she is taking extra steps to ensure her child is not left in the car unattended. “I usually don’t like leaving all the doors closed at once, just because I have so much anxiety about it. So I usually keep at least something open at all times.”

Some tips to keep in mind (From Children’s Hospital Los Angeles):

1. See before you lock!

When you leave your car, always open the tailgate and check the back seat before you lock your doors and drive away. Do this every time – even if you are 100% sure that your child is not with you. Make it a habit to check.

Tell anyone who will be driving your child to also look before they lock up. “It’s really important,” Arbogast says. “Just take a few seconds and do that check again.”

2. Put your wallet or phone in the back seat.

This habit forces you to check the back seat before leaving. Simply place an item there that you must take with you, such as a handbag, briefcase, phone, or employee badge.

3. Talk to your child’s care provider.

Tell the provider to call you right away if your child isn’t delivered on time.

A sleep-deprived parent who doesn’t typically drop off a child in daycare might drive a child to work on autopilot, completely forgetting that the child was with them that day. This has happened to parents in real life – and the results have been devastating. A quick call from a child care provider can be lifesaving.

4. Lock your car at home.

Always keep your car locked, whether it’s in the driveway, on the street, or in the garage. Ask visitors, relatives, neighbors, and childcare providers to do the same.

In addition, keep car keys and remote controls out of children’s reach.

“This is a huge concern right now because more parents are working from home during COVID-19,” Arbogast explains. “You want to make sure the child can’t get into the car while she’s not looking.”

According to KidsandCars.org, many of these tragedies occur when a schedule or routine changes. Busy times and periods of crisis also increase the risk of an accident. Be very vigilant during these times.

6. Don’t assume you’ll be right back.

It can be tempting to run inside a store for “just a few minutes” to pick up something, while leaving your little one alone in the car. Never do this. (It is illegal in California to leave a child under 6 years old alone in a car.)

“Kids can overheat very quickly,” Arbogast says. “And you can plan to go for a thing or two and then be late. Never leave a baby or infant alone in the car, even for a minute, no matter what the temperature is that day.”

According to advocacy group KidsandCars.org, an average of 39 children die each year of heat stroke in cars in the United States in 2019, 53 children died.

So it is important to always check two or three times before closing the doors!

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