Keeping Kids Safe: When extreme heat collides with a pandemic

Keeping kids safe in the heat
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 7:57 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In the past two years, more than 100 children have died of heatstroke in a hot car.

It’s a tragedy that happens to even the best families. And in this time of coronavirus, it’s of particular concern because family routines are disrupted.

Safety experts say it most commonly happens when families are out of their normal routine, and that's the reality for everyone right now.

Everyone's trying to decide what's safest for their kids when there's limited childcare.

Should you take them inside the store with you and possibly expose them to COVID-19?

Should you leave them in the car?

The answer is to avoid leaving them in the car.

Here's why:

In just the first 10 minutes you're parked, the temperature inside your car rises 19 degrees.

In the next 10 minutes, it rises another 10 degrees.

So if it's 100 degrees outside, within 10 minutes, the inside of your car will reach 119 degrees.

To put that into perspective, when your core body temperature hits 104, it's overwhelmed. If it reaches 107, it's fatal.

That's why safety experts are begging families to think before you leave the car.

“These deaths have occurred in my own local area and it’s truly heartbreaking. I’ve spoken with parents and they always say, ‘I never expected this to happen to me,’” said Amy Artuso, senior program manager for the National Safety Council.

Experts say there are some positives to these stay-at-home orders.

Since a large percentage of these accidents happen while kids are on their way to childcare or preschool, or in a parents’ place of work, experts estimate those numbers will be much lower since everyone is currently staying home.

Here are some helpful tips to keep your kids safe:

1. Never leave your child alone in a car. While leaving your child in the car alone might seem like a good idea during these challenging times, it is not worth the risk. Cars can heat up to dangerous levels in just a short amount of time. It’s easy to get distracted or delayed in the store, one of the scenarios that has led to too many unintentional tragedies.

2. Keep car doors and trunks locked and keep key fobs out of reach. With many families home and dealing with a new environment and responsibilities, supervision can be more difficult. Locking your car doors and reminding your neighbors (even those without kids) to do the same provides an important level of protection.

3. Create reminders. During the pandemic we are all distracted, and we know that distraction and schedule disruptions have been major contributors to heatstroke deaths since 1998. Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move the toy to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. You can also place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat when traveling with their child as a reminder.

4.Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.

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