Warm weather increases hot car death danger

It will feel more like mid June this week with high temperatures reaching the mid 80s in East Tennessee, about 10 degrees above the seasonal average for early May.

With summer-like weather here, it is time to put your summer heat safety practices into action. The National Weather Service urges safety precautions to keep children from being left in hot cars. A car can be a death trap for children, the elderly and pets even on mild days but with the kind of heat expected this week, a car can be a particularly deadly place in minutes.

Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Not even for a minute. If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911. Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies. Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.

If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area. If a child is missing, always check the car first. Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver, or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car. Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car. Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school or daycare.

With 90-degree heat, a car can reach 120 degrees inside in minutes. But it does not have to be extremely hot for cars to get hot inside. Even on a mild 70-degree day, a car can easily heat up to 100 degrees inside. In 2018, two children died from heat stroke on a 71-degree day in Arizona early in the year.

Last year, 52 deaths were attributed to children left in our playing in hot cars, including one local death in Monroe County.

According to www.noheatstorke.org, an examination of media reports about the 795 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths for a 21-year period (1998 through 2018) shows the following circumstances surrounding the deaths:

• 54 percent — Forgotten by caregiver (429 children)

• 26.3 percent — Gained Access on their own (209)

• 18.9 — Knowingly left by caregiver (150)

• 0.9 percent — Unknown (7)

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