It only takes a matter of minutes for a car left in the summer heat to become dangerously hot inside. With the heat index expected to still reach into dangerous levels this year; CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini and Bridgett Foreman, M.D. of the Freedman Clinic and a member of the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Pediatric Hospitalist program, conducted a public demonstration on just how fast the inside temperature of a closed parked vehicle can climb.
“It’s the end of summer when we think that temperatures are cooling off, but our children are still at risk of being trapped in hot cars,” according to Dr. Foreman. “The demonstration (shows) how quickly the temperatures can elevate when a child is left unattended in a car.” On the late September afternoon, the outdoor temperature was already well into the 90s when the demonstration doll was strapped into the car seat along with a thermometer. In just ten minutes, the temperature inside the vehicle soared to well over 120 degrees and climbing.
“Children are especially susceptible to being left in vehicles,” explains Dr. Foreman. “They don’t have the ability to dissipate heat as easily as adults.” All too often, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we hear heartbreaking stories of children left behind by a parent who does not normally drop off a child at daycare, or of children playing in and around cars getting themselves accidentally locked inside. “This time of year is a time whenever lots of change of routine is coming with school starting, changes in childcare plans, and so it’s a good time of year to be mindful of those changes and to do things to prevent leaving a child,” says Dr. Foreman.
CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini and Dr. Foreman recommend these simple, potentially lifesaving tips to help avoid heat-related emergencies:
- Never leave your car keys where children can get them.
- Keep car doors and trunks locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.
- Teach children not to play in or around cars.
- Never leave your child unattended in a car, even if the windows are down and a wind shield shade is in place, not even just to run a quick errand.
- Make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Don’t overlook sleeping infants!
- Make sure that the seat belt and seat surface are not too hot before buckling up your child.
Vigilance and preparation are key to keeping our children happy and healthy throughout the year. When emergencies do happen, CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital’s Emergency Room is equipped to deal with the many signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses and regularly does over the summer and early fall months.