With summer activities underway and temperatures rising, the Alabama Department of Public Health reminds the public June is National Safety Month and encourages the public to “look before you lock.”
The United States Department of Transportation reported that 52 children died of heatstroke in 2019 after being left in hot vehicles.
Fort Payne Police Chief Randy Bynum advises the public never to leave a child of any age in a vehicle.
“If you see a child left inside a vehicle, please contact the Fort Payne Police Department at 256-845-1414,” said Bynum.
Children are not the only victims of parked cars during the hot months; pets also suffer and die every year.
Dozens of children and pets die each year inside hot cars. When you park your vehicle, always make sure you look before you lock, said the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office.
Parked cars are death traps for dogs, according to humanesociety.org, on a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.
As parents, caregivers and bystanders, it is essential to understand the vulnerability of children and pets to prevent heatstroke that leads to serious illness, including death.
A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult; therefore, although you may be gone for a few minutes, every minute counts.
While your out and about with your family this summer consider the following:
• Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees.
• A core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.
• In 2018, 53 children died of vehicular heatstroke, that's the most in more than 20 years according to NoHeatstoke.org.
• Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
• Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle front to back before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to “park, look and lock” or ask yourself “where’s baby?”
Safety tips to help remind parents and caregivers to check the backseat, include placing items such as your purse, briefcase or other items as an additional reminder to look before you lock.
The nhtsa.gov suggests asking your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected because accidents happen and everyone can help prevent hot car deaths.
Bystanders are encouraged to pay attention to their surroundings and if you see a child alone in a locked car, call 911.
A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled, recommends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Heat stress is not the only danger you pet faces when left alone in a car. The Humane Society of the United States stated many pets are stolen each year from unattended vehicles.