|The Dangers of Leaving Children Alone In or Around Cars
LIBERTY, August 01, 2017 - Now that we are into summer in Texas, children are spending more time outdoors, which increases the danger of children being left alone in, and around, cars. When we think of children being left alone in cars, our first thought is the danger of children dying in hot cars due to heatstroke. But in addition to heat risks, there are other safety concerns with unsupervised children around cars — including back-overs, the risk of children releasing the gear shift or engaging electric windows, and even becoming trapped inside vehicles or trunks. According to the Safe Kids Worldwide, approximately 39 percent of back-over deaths occurred at home. Drivers in back-over and front-over deaths are often family members or family friends of the child.
Children are more at risk for heatstroke because a child’s body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. A heatstroke can occur at body temperatures above 104 degrees. Even mild outside temperatures can pose a threat, but with Texas summer temperatures climbing into the upper 90s each day, the danger becomes even greater. The problem is that temperatures in parked vehicles rise very quickly. According to figures from San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, in just 10 minutes, the temperature inside of a vehicle can increase by almost 20 degrees.
To reduce deaths from heatstroke, Safe Kids USA has launched a campaign titled ACT, which stands for: Avoid heatstroke-related injury, Create reminders, and Take action. The campaign is designed to link together these simple heatstroke prevention steps. It is important that parents and caregivers are on alert to avoid a heatstroke death, and that they share the ACT campaign steps with spouses, grandparents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Any change in schedule for drop-off or pickup of a child can lead to a deadly mistake. In more than half of the cases of heatstroke, the death was due to the child being “forgotten” by the caregiver. Such deaths are preventable when parents take precautions to make sure that children are not left alone in vehicles and cannot gain access to unlocked vehicles.
So far this year, 18 child vehicular heatstroke deaths have occurred in the U. S., including seven in Texas. Although many parents may think that this will never happen to them, it is a tragedy that can and has happened to many families.
Alexis Cordova, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent, Liberty County reminds parents to be extra vigilant to make sure that children are never left alone in or around parked vehicles. Follow these safety tips in this article to be sure that children cannot be harmed in a vehicle.
Children Left in Hot Vehicles
Children Left in Running Vehicles
Check to see if your vehicle has a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI), which is a safety technology to prevent children from accidentally putting a vehicle into gear. Check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle is equipped with BTSI. After Sept. 1, 2010, all vehicles with an automatic transmission with a PARK position must have BTSI.
Use drive-thru services when available.
Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
Lock the power windows so that children cannot play with and cannot get caught in them. Power windows can strangle a child or cut off a finger.
Following these safety tips can make all the difference in avoiding a needless tragedy.