It seems unthinkable, but each year, children die from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle on a hot day.
It perhaps goes without saying that babies and young children are especially sensitive to extreme heat.
We often hear reports of a parent or caregiver accidentally leaving a sleeping child in the car. Other times, a curious toddler or young child climbs into the car or trunk to play and is unable to escape.
Both scenarios can become dangerous in as little as 10 minutes on a hot day, according to Dr. Lisa Diard, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
“The car acts like a greenhouse and it absorbs all of that radiant heat from the sun but [the heat] doesn’t escape,” said Dr. Diard. “The child’s body temperature can elevate very rapidly and cause heat stroke and death.”
She recommends getting into the habit of checking the car before heading into work by putting something in the backseat that’s needed during the day, like a cell phone, purse or briefcase, that way you’ll have a reason to check your backseat before leaving your car unattended.
Another idea is to leave a stuffed animal in an empty car seat and then transfer it to the front when the car seat is occupied – that way the stuffed toy will serve as a visual reminder that your child is in the back.
Dr. Diard also stresses to never let a child play in the car and to always keep your keys out of reach.
“Make sure you have your car keys, automatic door openers, in a location where [your kids] cannot find them and if you can’t find your child, make sure you always check in the car,” said Dr. Diard.