Kids Left in Cars – Winter’s Quick Onset of Hypothermia
Tips to Prevent Leaving Kids in Cars –
With the start safety thoughts turn to keeping warm and driving safely in wintry conditions. However, as temperatures drop, the growing concern of parents leaving children in locked cars normally associated with the summer heat becomes just as serious an issue in the freezing winter months.
Even though children may not be directly exposed to the snow and wind chill, they are still at risk for hypothermia if left in unattended vehicles. The following are some facts about the severity of leaving children in locked vehicles and the quick onset of hypothermia:
- Smaller body size and an inability to make enough body heat through shivering put children at higher risk of hypothermia and frostbite when exposed to cold conditions.
- According to the Drive Steady Advocacy Group, children left in cold cars can suffer frostbite, or hypothermia, if their body temperature drops below 95 degrees F. That can happen all too quickly. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion, poor coordination, slurred speech, and numbness. Children may have trouble communicating these symptoms.
- The child tied in their car seat and wearing restrictive clothing can actually be risk factors to worsen their chances of hypothermia.
- During winter months, snow can block an automobile’s exhaust pipe, meaning parents who leave the car on for their children to stay warm are still putting them at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tips to Prevent Children from Getting into or Beling Left in Cars:
- Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
- Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase, etc., on the floorboard in the back seat.
- Keep a large stuffed animal or favorite toy in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal or toy in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal or toy is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.’
If You Find a Child in a Locked Car:
Break a window and get the child out of car. Or call 9-1-1- for local police or firefighters. If the child then is not in immediate danger then call 1-800-Pop-A-Lock.
The Pop-A-Lock technician nearest to the scene will leave all other priorities aside to arrive as soon as possible to unlock the child from the automobile. This free community service program was originally launched in 1991 and since then has saved over 350,000 children.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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