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May 06, 2010

Warm Weather is Here: Don't Leave Kids in Car

Kid-in-car From 1996 to the present, at least 241 children have died of heatstroke after being trapped inside parked cars, and at least 19 have died already this year. Most of the children were in child safety seats and left behind or forgotten by an adult. Others gained access to an unlocked car and then became trapped inside.

"During warm weather, temperatures can rapidly rise inside a vehicle, even if it's parked in the shade. A tragedy can occur within minutes if children are left in a closed car," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.

Young children trapped in a hot, closed vehicle are at particularly great risk on a day that is sunny or humid. Even when the temperature is as mild as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, a closed vehicle can heat to levels that are dangerous for children within a short span of time.

"It's not only parents and caregivers who should be extremely vigilant. Anyone who observes a small child alone in a closed vehicle should contact emergency services immediately," says Martin Eichelberger, M.D., president of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

NHTSA and SAFE KIDS urge parents to be particularly cautious about their children's safety in the summer and offer the following safety precautions to combat heat-related injuries in cars and other motor vehicles:

  • Never leave your child unattended in a motor vehicle, even with a window open.
  • Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach.
  • Watch children closely around cars, particularly when loading or unloading items.
  • Ensure that children exit the vehicle at your destination.
  • Don't overlook sleeping infants.
  • Place an unmistakable reminder of a child's presence where you'll be sure to see it before you leave the vehicle. For example, place a diaper bag right next to you, your briefcase or your lunch bag.
  • Check the temperature of child safety seats and seat belt buckles before restraining your child.
  • For more tips from NHTSA and Safe Kids, click here.
  • For additional safety tips, go to RTM's Teens & Tots section.

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