As temperatures rise, it’s important to remember that summer can bring more than just time off from school and great pool days. It can bring temperatures that can create dangerous situations for people and pets, especially in cars. Here are several tips to stay safe in the heat.
Check for Small Children
You should never leave infants or children in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. But even the best parents in the world can make mistakes. That’s why parents and caregivers must get in the habit of always looking inside their car before locking the doors. Here’s a mantra to help: Park. Look. Lock. And always ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?”
That goes for times when it’s not hot out as well. Even when it feels cool outside, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures quickly, and leaving a window open is not enough. Temperatures inside the vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes, even with a window cracked open. Sadly, unattended children left in parked cars are at the greatest risk for heatstroke and possibly death.
In fact, a record 54 children died in hot cars in 2018, followed by 53 fatalities in 2019, according to KidsAndCars.org. In 2020, 25 children died in hot cars last year, a drop which was likely due to the pandemic.
Checking for small children is important in lots of circumstances, even if you aren’t their parent or the driver of the car. Here are some tips for making sure children don’t accidentally end up in a hot car:
- Always keep cars locked even if you don’t have children.
- Always keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Place an item you can’t start the day without in the back seat.
- If a child goes missing, check the inside and trunk of all cars in the area immediately.
- Teach children to honk the horn if they get stuck.
Know the Signs
The main danger of a hot car for pets and people alike is heatstroke. Warning signs include hot, flush, or red skin; slow, weak pulse or strong, rapid pulse; lethargy, confusion or strange behavior; nausea; and no sweating.
If you see a child or pet alone in a car, get involved. KidsAndCars.com offers these tips for what to do:
- Don’t wait for the driver to return and call 911 right away. The 911 operator can help give you instructions on how to care for the child or pet.
- If the child or pet is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
- Get them out of the car by any means necessary.
- Move them to a cooler environment (somewhere with AC or shade if AC is not available).
- Remove child’s clothing to let the heat dissipate from their skin.
- Dampen them with cool water or wet rags, immerse in cool water (not in an ice bath).
- If the child or pet is responsive and not in distress:
- Stay with them until help arrives.
- Ask someone else if they can locate the driver and possibly alert security or a store manager to page them.
If you specifically see an unattended pet in a hot car, it can actually be a legal no-no to break into someone’s car, even to save a helpless animal. That’s why the Humane Society of the United States has special recommendations:
- Write down the car’s make, model, and license plate number.
- If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
- If the owner can’t be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive. In several states, good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.
Invest In New Technology
In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cleared the way for auto manufacturers to install highly sensitive in-car radar systems that can detect the presence of a child in a vehicle and alert caregivers before it’s too late.
Some automakers have already installed a variety of rear-seat reminders in some vehicles, including ultrasonic sensors and other simpler setups that can tell if a rear door has been opened before or during a trip.
It’s important to keep children and pets safe this summer. Whether you’re hitting the road or staying home, you’ll want to be protected, no matter what. Call Freeway Insurance today at 800-777-5620 for a free quote or request a car insurance quote online.