Summer Heat and Parental Distraction – A Dangerous Combo

Summer Heat and parent distraction… a potentially disastrous combination, as evidenced recently in the news with a famous mother’s child getting accidentally locked in the car with the pets.  According to Web MD some authorities have noted that more than 600 kids have died in unattended cars since 1990 from heat stroke.  With an outside temperature of only 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside can increase up to 40 degrees within an hour, with about 70% of that temp increase occurring in the first 30 minutes. That means that within 30 minutes of leaving your child in the car, the temp inside will be at least in the 90’s or higher.

Heat stroke, according to WebMD may occur when the body temperature is unnaturally raised past 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  This causes dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, and ultimately death.  So, why do caregivers forget their kids in the car?  Well, one cause is out-of-sight-out-of-mind, if the child is asleep in the back seat, for example.  Another is if the driver gets out of the normal routine, literally forgetting there is a child on board. And, third, some parents intentionally leave a child, thinking they won’t be very long.

So what can you do? The first rule is to NEVER get in the habit of even thinking about leaving a child alone in a car. Secondly, if you know there will be a deviation from the normal routine, make yourself a reminder, like an alarm on the cell phone for when the child should be delivered, or strategically place a reminder  item (like the child’s favorite stuffed toy)  .  Thirdly, don’t allow or encourage young children to play in or near the car.  Kids have been known to lock themselves in with no adult knowing.  Parent distraction is part of life; just be sure that your most common distraction, is to be able to give that kid an extra hug.

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