Child Safety | Auto Accident & Fatality Prevention Involving Motor Vehicles & Heat
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated a very important safety campaign aimed at preventing child fatalities in hot cars this past summer. The new campaign entitled, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” reminds all drivers to look for their children before locking and leaving their vehicles.
Heat Stroke is the second highest vehicle-related killer of children in the United States; car crashes are the first. On average, a child dies in a hot car every 10 days in this country. Since 1998, there have been 760 child Heat Stroke deaths. This year already, there have been 18 deaths when caregivers mistakenly left children alone and unattended in a hot car.
Children’s body temperatures climb 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s body temperature. In just 30 minutes, a car can climb to oven-like temperatures. A new study, published in the journal Temperature, found that the interior temperature of a car can reach 116 degrees in just an hour. The study also found that, even when parked in the shade, a child’s body temperature can reach a life-threatening 104 degrees in less than two hours.
What Can Parents Do to Prevent These Tragedies?
Parents need to be aware that a child is in the vehicle with them. Make it a habit to look in the backseat of your car every single time you exit the vehicle. Make sure to lock the car and put the keys out of reach of small children, who may be tempted to play in the car unattended. Some organizations have even advocated putting a shoe or a phone in the backseat to remind you to take your child with you when you exit the vehicle. While this might seem extreme, it can save your child’s life.
Ironically, hot-car deaths are more common now than they used to be because of safer, rear-facing car seats. Caregivers that are multi-tasking, or who are unaccustomed to taking children to daycare, may forget that a child is in the back seat. Without a visual check in the rear-view mirror, parents can make a tragic and fatal mistake.
If you want to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring, try these tips:
- Look in the back before you lock your car;
- Place a small, colorful note on your dashboard every time you are transporting a child in the back;
- Get your kids out of the car first, before unloading groceries;
- Don’t leave your child alone in a car even for a few minutes;
- Always lock the car and secure the keys when you’re at home;
- Warn your kids about playing in cars or their trunks;
- Install a trunk release mechanism; and
- Ensure that all childcare workers have a plan to ensure that kids aren’t left alone in a vehicle.
What Can Bystanders Do to Prevent This Tragedy?
If you are in a parking lot and notice an unattended child, it is important to follow these steps:
- Check to see if the child is unresponsive;
- Call 911 if the child is unresponsive;
- If the child is ok, attempt to locate the parents or call the store’s security personnel;
- If possible, wait with the child until the parents are located; and
- If the child is in distress, or is unresponsive, attempt to break into the car – even if it means breaking a window.
It is important to know that most states have “Good Samaritan” laws to protect you from a lawsuit if you damage another person’s property while trying to rescue a child.
Injured in a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
At McLaughlin & Lauricella, we want all families to be safe wherever they go. Our attorneys have more than 100 years of experience representing injured accident victims and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties. We are also proud to serve injured accident victims throughout the State of New Jersey. Contact us today toll-free at 1-855-633-6251 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.