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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Driver Education: Summer Heat Warning - Never Leave Children Alone in Cars

Hyperthermia is Leading Cause of Non-crash Child Vehicle Deaths

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned parents that the risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is greater for children left alone in vehicles. Recently released research shows that hyperthermia (heat-stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children.

"Even with the windows rolled down two inches, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures on a hot summer day," said Ronald Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator of NHTSA. "Children should never be left alone in or around a motor vehicle, not even for a quick errand. Any number of things can go critically wrong in the blink of an eye."

According to a new NHTSA study, 262 children under the age of 14 are killed and 115,000 are injured in non-crash incidents on private roads, driveways and in parking lots each year. Of that number, 44 fatalities and 105,000 injuries are the results of non-crash incidents such hyperthermia, strangulation by power windows, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Many of the remaining deaths and injuries in non-crash incidents are the result of a child being backed over by a vehicle where the driver did not see the child.

The NHTSA's safety tips to prevent hyperthermia include:

    • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle.

    • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Make sure they understand that a vehicle is not a play area.

    • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or if the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.

    • Always inspect the front and back seats of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.

    • If your spouse or partner is taking your child to daycare, and normally it's your responsibility, call your spouse or partner to make sure everything went according to plan.

    • Ask your childcare provider to phone you immediately if your child does not show up for childcare. To remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle:

—Write a note and put it on the steering wheel or anywhere you will see it when you leave the vehicle.
—Place your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle.
—Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy, to remind you that a child is in the vehicle. When the child is buckled in, place the object where you will see it when exiting the vehicle.

    • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of the reach of children. If a child is missing, inspect your vehicle first, including the trunk.

    • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle. Get them out as quickly as possible if they are in distress due from the heat. Cool the child as quickly as possible.

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