JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The death of a child caused by being left in a hot car can happen to anyone. Officials are encouraging parents and caregivers to adopt habits that will help reduce the risk of a child dying from being left in a hot car.

Leaders with the American Medical Response (AMR) of Central Mississippi said children have more body surface area than adults, so they adsorb heat faster. In minutes, a child’s body can reach temperatures that cause heat stroke, which can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

They said research shows that even outside temperatures in the 70s can cause car interiors to quickly reach temperatures that are hot enough to cripple or kill a child. The temperature inside a car can climb 20 degrees in ten minutes.

AMR leaders recommend adopting these habits to ensure a child’s safety:

  • To avoid overlooking a child in a safety seat, always check the interior, front and back of your car before walking away.
  • Tie one of your child’s small toys or a pacifier to a string and hang it around your neck. When you leave the car, even if you forget the toy is hanging from your neck, someone else is likely to mention it.
  • Put an item you won’t forget next to your child. This could be a phone, purse or your left shoe.
  • Put a brightly-colored toy in your passenger seat to remind yourself of your child’s presence.
  • One parent may forget about a child in the car if the other parent is usually the one to drop them off at daycare. To avoid this, parents should set a reminder to call each other immediately after drop-off time to make sure things went smoothly.
  • Keep the trunk of your car locked at all times. Keep your car keys out of children’s reach. Some cars have fold-down rear seats that allow access to the trunk from the backseat. Make sure these seats are folded up. Teach children how to use a trunk safety latch.
  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Have children exit the car at each stop.
  • Be wary of child-resistant locks.

AMR leaders said leaving a window open or the air conditioner on does not protect children left inside a car. Take the child with you every time, no matter how soon you plan to return to the vehicle.