The data shows a child dies in an overheated car every 10 days. With summer on the doorstep the Summit County Health Department wants to remind caregivers that leaving children and pets in a closed car, in the sun, could have tragic consequences.
According to Summit County Health Educator, Alyssa Mitchell, the data also shows that in more than half the cases, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car. She says parents and caregivers can forget their passenger especially if the child falls asleep.
“Something that the statistic doesn’t really talk about is, a lot of the time, these caregivers are out of their normal routine. That’s when we start noticing children get left in hot cars. Parents get in their zone. I don’t have a better way of saying it other than that. They drive, they’re in their normal routine and unfortunately, kids just get left in the cars. We also see it quite a bit with grandparents, who don’t normally transport their kids, also tend to forget that they’re in the back seat.”
Mitchell says the temperature inside a closed-up car can increase by nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes.
“Especially for pets and children. It is real hard for them to regulate their body temperature. And, so they are more effected by the heat than an adult or person would be.” Mitchell urges people to lock vehicles even when parked in their own driveways.
“So, parents will leave their cars unlocked in the driveway because they think, they’re home, maybe they’re unpacking things from the vehicle and they forget to lock their vehicle. Well, kids like to get in the car. They like to play and pretend they’re Mom and they’re Dad. And, unfortunately, they become stuck inside the vehicle and can’t figure out how to get out. So, one thing we always want to remind parents is, when your vehicle is parked, lock your doors.”
Mitchell has a few methods that help remind her to check her back seat before she walks away from her car.
“Out of habit, I’ll stick my purse right under one of my kids’ car-seats. And, as I get out, I’ll go to grab my purse and that’s with or without my kids. But it always just provides that extra reminder, okay, I need to grab this, my car seats are clear and then I can move on. I’ve heard of people doing it with their shoes and actually, there are apps that you can download on your phone to help set reminders.”
Mitchell says many pre-schools and daycare centers have auto text systems that will send out notices if a child isn’t at the center. She says it’s critical that people call 911 if they see children or pets locked up in a car. Go to the Summit County Health Department website for more details.