Every summer, children die from heat stroke because they are unintentionally left in a hot car, with the majority of these deaths occurring in children age 3 and under. I want to remind parents and others they should never leave a child in a car unattended.
Infants and small children are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way that adults do. Sweating won’t cool down an infant or young child in the same way that it does an adult, and children may not be able to extract themselves from a car seat or remove clothing to help their bodies adjust.
These American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed tips are good for parents when traveling in a car with infants or young children:
- The inside of a car can reach dangerous temperatures quickly, even when the outside temperature is not hot. Never leave a child alone in a car, even if you expect to come back soon.
- Always check the back seat to make sure all children are out of the car when you arrive at your destination.
- Avoid distractions while driving, especially cell phone use.
- Be especially aware of kids in the car when there is a change from the routine such as someone else is driving them in the morning, or you take a different route to work or child care. A change in routine can make you forget that little ones are in the back seat.
- Have your childcare provider call if your child has not arrived within 10 minutes of the expected arrival time.
- Place your cell phone, bag or purse, or shoes in the back seat, so you are reminded to check the back seat when you arrive at your destination.
- Lock your car when it is parked so children cannot get in without supervision.
- Drink plenty of water and have your children drink plenty of water when temperatures soar.
- Plan for extra rest time – heat and a change from the normal routine leaves kids and parents feeling tired.