JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The horror of losing a small child, who was left in a hot vehicle, is something no parent wants to go through.
With temperatures rising in Mississippi as we head into the summer months, AMR paramedics said it’s important to adopt habits to prevent those deaths.
“Small children fall victim to the heat faster than adults. That’s because children, relative to adults, have more body surface area, which means they absorb more heat and absorb it much faster than grown-ups. In just minutes, a child’s body can reach temperatures that can cause heat stroke, which can lead to permanent brain damage or death,” said Ryan Wilson, operations manager at AMR Central Mississippi.
- 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.
- Get in the habit of checking your vehicle’s interior, front and back, before walking away. Child passenger safety experts use the expression, “Look before you lock.”
- To avoid overlooking a small child restrained in a car safety seat, use these tips:
- Tie one of your child’s small toys or a pacifier to a string and hang it around your neck. When you leave the vehicle, even if you forget the toy is hanging from your neck, someone else is likely to mention it.
- Put in the back seat next to the child an item you have to take with you when you leave the vehicle, such as a cell phone, purse or briefcase. Another idea is to put your left shoe next to the child.
- Place an unmistakable reminder of your child’s presence where you’ll be sure to see it before you leave the vehicle. For example, place a good-sized brightly colored stuffed toy in plain sight on the passenger seat next to the driver. Clear off all other items on the seat so you are more likely to notice the reminder when you exit the vehicle.
Some newer vehicles have a built-in electronic device to alert you about a small child in a safety seat when you exit. However, paramedics said you should not rely on that device solely.
Wilson said car trunks are especially hazardous for children who can get out of booster seats or safety belts on their own. To prevent a child’s getting trapped in a scorching trunk, parents should do the following:
- Keep the trunk of your car locked at all times, especially when the vehicle is parked in the driveway or near your home. Put the keys out of children’s reach.
- Some cars have fold-down rear seats that, when lowered, allow access to the trunk. Keep those seats closed to stop kids from accessing the trunk from the passenger area.
- Most vehicles have a safety latch inside the trunk. Teach older children where that latch is and how to use it.