The weather is starting to warm up. Before we know it, Summer will be here with scorching heat in the Counties of Berks, Schuylkill, Montgomery, Lancaster, and Lebanon and throughout Pennsylvania. However, it does not take hot weather for children to end up in danger. Parents and caregivers must be vigilant about the everyday threat of children (and pets) dying in hot cars. Heatstroke can be a four-season threat in some parts of the country. First and foremost, you should be aware that children are more susceptible to heatstroke and that all deaths involving hot cars are preventable. Everyone plays a role in the prevention of hot car deaths, including parents, caregivers, and bystanders.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States Department of Transportation, since 1998, 900 children have died of heatstroke as a result of being left in a hot car or becoming trapped in a hot car. According to NoHeatstroke.org, in 2018 and 2019, there were a record number of fatalities due to children being left and/or trapped in a hot car (with 53 deaths each year). According to the NHSTA, in 2021, there were 23 such deaths.
Children can die within minutes when left in a hot motor vehicle because their body temperature rises quickly, three to five times faster than that of an adult. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature hits 104°, and a child can die when their body temperature reaches 107°.
The professional and knowledgeable car, truck, and motorcycle injury attorneys at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., want to help by sharing important tips about the prevention of hot car deaths from the NHTSA. To prevent hot car deaths, the NHTSA recommends the following:
● Never leave a child in a car unattended, not even for a split second, even if the windows are partially down or if the AC is running.
● Park, Look, Lock: check the interior of the entire car (every row of seating) before locking the vehicle and walking away.
● Instruct your childcare provider to immediately contact you if your child does not show up to the facility as expected.
● Keep car keys out of the reach of children and teach them that cars and trucks are not playing areas.
● Put a frequently used item, like a purse, cellphone, or briefcase, alongside a child’s car seat so that you will always remember to check the back seats when you get out of a car.
● Use a stuffed animal or other memento to keep in your child’s car/baby seat when your child is not in it, and then move it to the front seat when the child is in the car so that you’ll remember that the child is in the car.
● Always lock your car doors and trunk to prevent children from getting in the car when you are not around.
● Act quickly if you see a child alone in a car on a warm or hot day. If the child appears to be in distress or is unresponsive, you may need to break a window for their safety. Do not hesitate to call 911, especially if you have any concerns at all about the child’s safety.
The personal injury lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter P.C. are concerned for the safety of children and their families throughout the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and serve motor vehicle accident victims and their families in Reading, Berks County, and Pottsville, Schuylkill County, as well as throughout Central and Eastern PA, including Lancaster, Lebanon, Pottstown, and Philadelphia. The firm also handles medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, and nursing home neglect. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 610-370-6682, or complete a contact form available on our website.