Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Summertime means barbecues, swimming, outside play, and road trips. But, beautiful weather also comes with an increased risk of heatstroke, fatal car accidents, and distracted driving. Amber Rollins from Kids and Cars says, “Accidents involving children and vehicles increase during the summer months. Now is the time for parents to be hyper-vigilant about keeping their children safe. Many tragedies happen during changes in the normal routine or when everyone thinks someone else is watching the children.”
An average of 38 children die in hot cars every year, with 88% under the age of 3. Because a child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult, young children are most at risk for heatstroke.
Rollins says, “Hot car deaths continue to take place because nobody believes this could happen to them. While education and awareness about hot car deaths is at an all-time high, so is the number of children dying in hot cars. The technology exists to prevent these unthinkable tragedies and would be required by The Hot Cars Act. What are we waiting for?”
Children are left in hot cars when:
There is a change in routine
Lack of sleep/fatigue (these alter the way our brains are able to function)
Look before you lock: Make a habit of opening the back door and checking the back seat every time you leave your vehicle, even if you believe your spouse has your child.
Place an item you cannot start your day without (computer, cell phone, employee badge) on the floorboard in front of your child’s car seat. This helps to form a habit so you will automatically open the back car door and check the back seat every time you arrive at your destination.
Make sure child care providers call you if your child doesn't show up as scheduled.
Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
Clearly communicate who is getting each child out of the vehicle when more than one adult is present and always do a headcount of children.
Keep cars locked and out of reach of children at all times to prevent children from getting in a vehicle on their own.
Keep the Inside of Your Vehicle Safe
While we can’t always prevent car accidents, we can keep children safe during a vehicular crash. Parents.com says, “Anything that is not secured could potentially become a projectile in the event of a crash. This includes unoccupied booster seats, strollers, sports, and outdoor equipment, or large bags.” Also, the internal temperature of a car reaches 125° in minutes. Metal objects, such as seat belt buckles become dangerous, leading to severe burns.
Keep kids safe by:
Placing a blanket over the metal tongue on your child’s seat buckle to prevent contact burns.
Place large, loose items in the trunk to prevent them from injuring a child in the event of a crash.
Make sure to only let your child play with soft toys or books.
One of the most common forms of car accidents are backovers, this is when a vehicle coming out of a driveway or parking space accidentally backs over an unattended child due to blind spots. Rollins says, “A high-risk time for backovers and frontovers is when someone is arriving or leaving the home. Many times children like to sneak outside to greet or say bye-bye to a loved one. Because every vehicle has a blind zone, the driver is unable to see a small child approaching their vehicle and the end result can be tragic. Directly supervising children any time a vehicle is being moved and making sure they cannot sneak out of the home is critical for preventing these tragedies.”
Prevent backovers by:
Walking around the entire vehicle and checking blind spots before backing up.
Teach children to move away from vehicles when a driver gets in the car, and especially when the car turns on.
Tell children to move to the side of the driveway where you can clearly see them while you’re pulling in or out.
Check mirrors, stick your head out the window to listen for children, and look behind you while pulling out of a parking spot.
Teach children not to leave their toys in the driveway, as they may dart out in front of a moving vehicle to retrieve them.
A rearview camera can be installed on ANY vehicle. They are available online and at your local auto shops and the prices on these systems are lower than ever. The simple fact is that you cannot avoid hitting something or someone that you cannot see.
Distracted driving takes on a whole new level when there are young children in the back seat. According to the CDC, “Distracted driving is anything that takes your focus away from the road, including visual distractions that take your eyes off the road, manual distractions that cause your hands to leave the wheel, and cognitive distractions that take your mind away from the task of driving. Crying, hungry or bored kids can be just as much of a distraction as your mobile device.”
Remain alert and keep your eyes on the road:
Feed children and change their diapers before leaving home.
Have movies, television shows, and music set and ready to go. Use an in-car device as incoming calls on a cell phone can interrupt a movie, causing children to scream and cry.
Place your phone on the floorboard below your child’s car seat. This not only prevents texting while driving but also reminds you to always open the back car door and check for the baby.
Drowsiness leads to distraction: Get out of the car and stretch or stop for food or a beverage.
Be on the lookout for distracted pedestrians, as they may unintentionally walk into oncoming traffic.
Avoid eating, drinking, and speaking on the phone for long periods of time (even with a Bluetooth-enabled device).
Practicing proper car safety in the summer will ensure that everyone has a fun, enjoyable season. The Institute For Childhood Preparedness provides childcare providers with the tools, training, resources, and the skills needed to prepare, respond and recover from an emergency situation. Contact us today to find out how we can bring your child care facility up to capacity: https://www.childhoodpreparedness.org/aboutus.