It's Never Safe To Leave Children Alone In The Car

Death Can Come in Minutes

(Los Angeles, July 22, 2005) — With the Southland preparing to enter a second straight weekend during which inland temperatures could reach triple digits, the Automobile Club of Southern California reminds motorists of the danger of leaving children alone in a vehicle. The Auto Club reminds parents and childcare givers that children can die within minutes in hot temperatures.

"Children under four years of age seem to be the most at-risk for having their lives endangered by being left in a hot car for any length of time," said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior research associate for the Auto Club. "Incidents appear to be equally distributed in three groups: children intentionally left in a car by an adult, children forgotten because of adult confusion or impairment and children locking themselves in a car while at play."

In the last few years, there have been several cases of children who died after being locked in a vehicle during severely hot weather. California law makes it illegal to leave children unattended in a vehicle, imposing fines and jail sentences for offenses.

Doctors warn that if the outside temperature is 90 degrees, it could be 110 inside a car. Within minutes the temperature can climb to 150 degrees or more. In a short time, a child can become dehydrated with the body's internal temperature climbing above 107 degrees. Even five minutes locked in an overheated car is too much for a small child.

The Auto Club urges motorists:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a minute.
  • If you see a child locked in a car, immediately call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Get the child to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
  • Never try to treat heatstroke at home with cold water or cooling the child in a tub of water. Only a specialist should treat heatstroke.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has served members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, car buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available at www.aaa.com.

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