On a hot day in March in Austin, Texas, a mother leaves work for the day only to realize that she left her 6-month-old in the car. The infant was dead due to heat stroke.
Last year in the United States, 49 children died after being left unattended in hot vehicles, and since record keeping began in 1998, 494 children have died this way. Many of these deaths occurred when parents forgot about children sleeping in the back. Others occurred when parents intentionally left children for short periods of time with windows cracked, and still others occurred when children entered unlocked vehicles or trunks and became trapped. Temperatures in vehicles can rise very rapidly, even on mild days in Colorado, and because a childs temperature regulating system has not fully developed, his/her body temperature can warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adults. When a body temperature passes 104 degrees Fahrenheit, symptoms of heat stroke begin. At 107 degrees, internal organs shut down and cells are damaged, resulting in death.
Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even for short periods with the windows cracked. Teach them that the car is not a play area. Leave something obvious on the front seat to remind you theres a child in the back seat. Make a habit of checking the back seats when you leave your vehicle. Even honest, innocent people make tragic mistakes, so practice these tips to help keep your family safe.
Troopers Tips is a monthly column from the Colorado State Patrol. Laws may vary from state to state. If you have a question or topic youd like discussed, please e-mail Trooper Wiersma at: [email protected]