Although Southwest Florida is beautiful year around, the temperature rises and we experience hot and humid weather during the spring and summer months. This excess heat and humidity creates health hazards, especially for kids. A child’s small body is unable to regulate internal body temperature, and increases in temperature 3-5 times faster than adults when exposed to heat. When a baby or small child is fastened in a car seat, there is no method of escaping if they become too warm.
In Florida, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even when “just running into a store;” a short period of time in a hot vehicle can cause major injuries or death to a child. Nonetheless, these tragedies happen every day, and cracking a window is not enough to prevent an accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the inside temperature of a vehicle siting directly in sunlight can increase anywhere from 131 to 172 degrees Fahrenheit on an 80 to 100-degree day. A child can experience heatstroke if his body temperature reaches 104 degrees; an internal body temperature of 107 degrees is fatal.
What are the statistics behind vehicle-related heat injuries and death?
- Since 1998, approximately 38 children per year suffer major vehicle-related heatstroke injuries, according to KidsAndCars.org
- In Florida alone, an average of 60 children died of heatstroke between 1990 and 2010
- 24 percent of non-traffic injuries involving children are caused by a child being forgotten in a hot vehicle
- According to Parents magazine, out of all the children who are killed by heatstroke each year after being left in a car:
- 52 percent are left in the car by accident
- 50+ percent are under the age of 2
- 20 percent are left by a parent wanting to make a “quick” errand run
- 30 percent get into a vehicle without their parent’s knowledge, and can’t get out on their own
You can take many precautions to prevent kids from being left and injured in a hot car, Safekids.org suggests:
- Calling 911 immediately if you ever see a child left unsupervised in a vehicle
- Parents can “ACT” to prevent vehicle-related heatstroke deaths:
- A: Avoid leaving your child unattended in a vehicle for any amount of time as temperatures in the spring and summer months can rise quickly. Keep your vehicle locked when not using to prevent kids from climbing inside
- C: Create a reminder to help you remember to get your child out of the vehicle by keeping your purse, briefcase or cell phone in the backseat next to him
- T: Take action and call 911 immediately if you ever see a child left unsupervised in a vehicle; emergency personnel are quick to respond to these situations, and you could save the child’s life
Parvey & Cavenago strongly encourage parents and individuals to prevent the unfortunate death of a child by keeping these tips in mind during our hot and humid, Southwest Florida springs and summers. Most parents are convinced they could never accidently leave a child in the car, but distractions can make even the best parents forget to check the backseat before leaving their child in the car.