Heat Injury & Entrapment
Parents running quick errands may think their cars will remain cool, but even on mild days temperatures inside vehicles can rise to dangerous levels in minutes. A young child's core body temperature can increase 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult, causing permanent injury or death.
The family car parked in the driveway can also be dangerous. Unlocked cars pose serious risks to children who are naturally curious and often lack fear. Once they crawl in, young children don't have the developmental capability to get out. One-third of the heat-related deaths in 2000 occurred when children crawled into unlocked cars while playing and became trapped.
In the Seating Area
- Check to make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination, particularly when loading and unloading
- Consider using windshield shades in front and back windows
- Don't overlook sleeping infants
- Make sure you check the temperature of the child safety seat surface and safety belt buckles before restraining your children in the car
- Never leave your child in an unattended car, even with the windows down
- Use a light covering to shade the seat of your parked car
Trunks & Entrapment
- Always lock car doors and trunks, especially when parked in the driveway or near the home
- Be wary of child-resistant locks
- Contact your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism
- If your child gets locked inside a car, get him out and dial 911 or your local emergency number immediately
- Keep car keys out of reach and sight
- Keep the rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car
- Teach children not to play in or around cars
- Teach older children how to disable the driver's door locks if they unintentionally become entrapped in a motor vehicle
Several states have enacted laws designed to protect children from being left unattended in motor vehicles. Legislative solutions include establishing penalties for leaving a child alone in a car. Please note that even if a state does not have a specific law prohibiting adults from leaving children unattended, state and local prosecutors have the discretion to charge adults criminally under existing child endangerment laws.