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The Truth About Leaving a Child in a Hot Car and Heat-Stroke Prevention

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This post was sponsored by Auto Alliance as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

We never think it could happen to us.

As temperatures start to rise, the news stories start circulating. Each news story has its own lengthy list of comments, but they are usually along the lines of “I would never!” and “Why can’t parents today be more responsible?” and don’t forget the “If they would just put down the phone…”. The accusations are relentless. The grieving parents who were sidetracked for mere minutes have been turned into cold-hearted monsters but a group of faceless commenters on social media.

Maybe if we stop pointing our fingers, and think about the stories that have unfolded, we can put ourselves into those news stories. Only for us, we had a different outcome.

It Can Happen in an Instant

Going to the grocery store is no small task with children. Chaos and confusion abound. Even when everyone has their own list, there are 10 hands grabbing items off shelves and placing them in the cart. Not only do we have to check things off our lists, we also have to monitor the cart for “extras” that conveniently find their way in.

Making it through the check-out lane without someone getting hurt is always a miracle. Then you have to make it to the car, load the groceries and the get the kids buckled into their seats. Thankfully they are old enough to buckle themselves when they want to.

At this point, everyone needs a nap. You put on some relaxing music to help calm the atmosphere in the car as you head home.

The littlest falls asleep because yesterday was a long day and nap time was missed while at the store. Mentally you make a note. Maybe they will wake up when the car parks, maybe not.

Arrival at home is just as crazy.

You yell for an older child to make sure the littlest gets inside, but you don’t realize they didn’t hear you.

Kids start grabbing for grocery bags to take inside and you bring in what’s left, glancing quickly inside the car to make sure everyone is out, but the windows are tinted so it’s kind of hard to see.

Unloading groceries is also an event. While everyone helped bring in the bags, they left them scattered around the Kitchen, raiding them for afternoon snacks, and scattering themselves throughout the house. When the bags are finally unpacked and the groceries in their places, you call out to your oldest to ask where your littlest could be.

Their answer stops you in your tracks.

They don’t know.

Grabbing the keys, you run to the car.

What is Heat-Stroke?

The Mayo Clinic describes heatstroke as “a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.”
Whether the windows are left cracked open or closed, when temperatures skyrocket, within minutes, the car’s interior temperature reaches the same temperature of the outside air. Depending on the color of the car and interior, the temperature of the inside of the car can exceed the outside temperature.

Why is this Important?

Have you ever gone into a store only to return to your car and it feels like an oven? Young children are particularly at risk of heatstroke when left inside a vehicle because their bodies can heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, causing them to suffer heatstroke within minutes.

Data shows that an average of 37 young lives are lost each year from being unattended in cars, which means it’s not always about forgetfulness. Sometimes children climb in the vehicles to play because they think it will be fun, but then get trapped. More than half of these victims are under a year old while 75% were under two years of age.

Heat-Stroke Can Be Prevented

Automakers with the Auto Alliance want to encourage everyone to be vigilant and prevent heatstroke. They’ve come up with a simple acronym to help prevent heatstroke, ACT.

Avoid: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids can’t get in on their own.

Create Reminders: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your children such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

Take Action: If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Three Reminders that Can Make a Difference

1. Place your purse, briefcase, phone, diaper bag, next to the car seat in the back. Something that you’ll need to grab after getting out of the car.

2. Set a reminder on your phone before you leave for your destination to remind you to check the back seat.

3. Get into the habit of looking before you lock. Make sure to check the backseat before you lock the car after getting out. Even when no one else is in the car with you, look before you lock.

Auto Alliance Heatstroke Video

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