Summer is winding down and school will be starting soon. That does not mean we are clear of the dog days of summer just yet. As the summer heat continues, it is important to remain alert to children and car safety. The U.S. Department of Transportation has indicated that heatstroke is the number one cause of vehicle-related deaths of children, outside of car crashes. Are you familiar with the signs and symptoms of heatstroke? Would you know how to help if you found a child in a hot car?
To build awareness, the Administration for Children and Families, through their Offices of Head Start and Child Care, and in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have created a national campaign called “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Below, you will find helpful tips and information for recognizing heatstroke and keeping children safe. To review all resources, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Heatstroke Campaign.
Did you know?
- A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body.
- Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states.
- More than half of heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot a quiet child was in the vehicle.
- Creating reminders and habits is an effective way to ensure that a child is not forgotten in the vehicle.
The following are some reminders and habits that will help you “Look Before You Lock” when traveling with children:
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check that your child arrived safely.
If you do find a child left in a car, alone, here are steps you can take to help:
- Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
- Don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business—protecting children is everyone’s business.
- "Good Samaritan" laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency.
- If the child is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
- Call 911.
- Get the child out of the car.
- Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath)
- If the child is responsive:
- Stay with the child until help arrives.
- Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.
The information and resources that are part of the “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock” campaign is useful to both families and providers. Please share this information to help build awareness and help keep children safe.