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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Driver Safety: Forgetting Children in Vehicles

Are you distracted when driving in your car? Maybe you are not on the phone or texting someone, so you think you are just fine. But are you preoccupied with thoughts of the day ahead of you? Do you have lots going on at work or do you think you will be late for a class or late for work? Do you have an errand to run, like stopping quickly at the bank, or maybe you need some milk or baby food and then you look back and see your child has fallen asleep. What do you do? Wake up the child or let them sleep peacefully and run into a store for just a minute. Or, do you arrive at your destination and never look back? Always keep in mind, - Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle.

In areas where you have warm weather most of the year, as well as northern areas where it is hot only several months out of the year, children should never be left alone in a vehicle. The statistics for children dying in a hot car seem to be increasing each year.

The car can be considered a metal box and the hot sun can increase its temperature to be equivalent to an oven.

When the temperature outside is 93 degrees, after 20 minutes the car will be 125 degrees, and after 40 minutes it can be about 140 degrees.

A car parked in direct sunlight can reach as high as 170 degrees even after 15 minutes. At that temperature it takes only a few minutes for children to die or suffer brain, liver and kidney damage.

When caregivers or parents become pre-occupied are in a hurry and have already dropped several children at school or day care and a child falls asleep while sitting in the back in the car seat, they can be forgotten. Try to use something as a reminder to prevent this from ever happening.

Some suggestions include:

  • Set your cell phone or blackberry reminder.

  • Have your day care call you if your child does not arrive by a set time each day.

  • Use a daily checklist that lists everything you need to do, especially when transporting children.

If you are a bus driver or van driver, check the vehicle from end to end. Perhaps use an object that at pick up time you put it in the back of the vehicle, and at drop off, you bring it with you to the front while checking every seat as well as under the seats.

Additional child safety tips include:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.

  • Always make sure all passengers have left your car when you park.

  • Make sure to check the temperature of the car seat surface and safety belt buckles before restraining a child.

  • Keep car keys away from children and always lock your car, so that children do not look to sneak into the car or trunk to hide or to play.

  • If you see children alone in a locked car, try to find the parents, if you cannot locate anyone in a short period of time call 9-1-1.

Although every state has different laws regarding this, many can charge you with a crime that involves a trial, and possible prison time.

Don't be a statistic. Don't get distracted. Concentrate and Focus.

Additional Articles:
Summer Heat Warning - Never Leave Children Alone in Cars
Preparing Your Vehicle for Summer Heat

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Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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