(LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24, 2009) – With the weather service issuing an excessive heat warning for the Southland with temperatures expected to reach 90-100 degrees, the Automobile Club of Southern California strongly cautions motorists about leaving children alone in a closed vehicle.
The Auto Club reminds parents and childcare givers that children can die within minutes in hot temperatures inside a vehicle. Last year in Los Angeles, a car thief stole a vehicle with children inside generating concern that the thief might abandon the car with the kids inside during the high temperatures.
Nationwide 484 children died from heat stroke after being left in unattended vehicles since 1998, with 38 deaths thus far in 2010.
“We think that we’re only going to be inside a store for a few minutes, but children under age four are 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 traffic safety researcher for the Auto Club. “Children should not be intentionally left in a car by an adult, or forgotten because of adult distraction. Children also should not be allowed to play in or around cars,” he added.
California law makes it illegal to leave children unattended in a vehicle. “Make ‘check the back seat before you leave the car’ a routine whenever you exit a vehicle,” Bloch said.
Parking in shade, cracking windows open and tinted windows don’t lessen the interior temperature of a closed car, according to pediatric researchers. Doctors warn that if it’s a 90 degree day, it could be at least 130 degrees inside a car. Within minutes the temperature can climb to 150 degrees. A child can become dehydrated with the body’s temperature climbing above 107 degrees in just a few minutes.
The Auto Club urges motorists to:
- Never leave car keys where children can get to them.
- Keep doors and windows locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.
- Never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a minute, and even if the windows are tinted or down.
- Make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Before buckling up your child, make sure the seat and seat belt are not too hot.
- If you see a child locked in a car, immediately call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance.
- Don’t treat heatstroke at home with cold water or cooling the child in a tub of water. Only a specialist should treat heatstroke. Seek medical treatment immediately.