Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member andpartner
Whenever news of a child suffering from hyperthermia and dying after being left in a hot car, everyone expresses shock and dismay over the incident. Such tragic incidents occur frequently enough to make heatstroke the “leading cause of non-crash related vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14, representing 61% of non-crash related fatalities in this age group.”
The American Automobile Association’s (AAA) issued a press press release on July 9,2013 about such avoidable and terrible tragedies. “To avoid such senseless tragedies, never leave a child unattended in a car, even if the windows are tinted or down. Period. Paragraph,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The temperature in a parked vehicle can quickly rise to lethal levels even on a cloudy or overcast day. What’s more, don’t allow children to play in unlocked, parked vehicles and never leave car keys where children have access to them.”
“For this reason, hyperthermia awareness needs to be a 365-day top-of-the mind operation, advises the auto club. Keep in mind; temperatures inside a car on a day with outside temperatures in the mid-to-high 90’s can quickly soar to nearly 200 degree. That’s hot enough to cook many foods and to kill most living things. Heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees, according to SaferCar.gov.
Again, never leave children inside a parked car, and the same thing applies to the elderly and to pets on these wickedly hot days. If you do see a child or pet locked in a car and cannot find the owner of the vehicle, call 911 immediately.
To avoid the horrors of inadvertently leaving a child in a hot vehicle during the dog days of summer, parents and caregivers should use reminders, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. For example, when you first place a child in a car seat in the back seat of the car, also open the glove compartment door, flip down the passenger side visor or put a purse in the back seat. “These actions can serve as visual reminders that a child is in the back seat.”
In addition, the following safety tips are recommended by NHTSA to help prevent the risk of serious injury or death to children left in cars:
- “Never leave a child alone in a car – even with the windows partially opened – as a vehicle’s interior can still heat up quickly to deadly temperatures.
- Do not leave your children alone in a running vehicle with the air conditioner on even for a few minutes; your child may put the car into drive or even get caught in a closing power window, not to mention that you increase the risk of your car being stolen and your child abducted.
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away. Children have died because they fell asleep in their car seats and their parents didn’t realize they were still in the car.
- If your spouse or a guardian is taking your children to daycare ask them to call you to make sure the drop-off went according to plan.
- Do things to remind you that a child is in the vehicle:
- Place your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat where your child is seated so that you will have to check that area when you leave the vehicle.
- Leave a written note in your vehicle where you will see it as you leave the vehicle, such as on the dashboard area.
- Keep an object in your child’s car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when leaving the vehicle, as a reminder that a child is in the back seat.
- Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle – teach them that a car is not a play area; always lock your car doors and keep car keys out of children’s reach.”
Please be safe.
Do you have questions about this post?
- “Kids and Hot Cars: The Danger of Hyperthermia” – our original post
- The National Safety Council – Children In & Around Vehicles
- Safe Kids USA – In and Around Cars Fact Sheet
- Kids and Cars – Hyperthermia Incidents
- “Heat Stress From Enclosed Vehicles: Moderate Ambient Temperatures Cause Significant Temperature Rise in Enclosed Vehicles” – Pediatrics, 2005.
- “Heat related deaths to young children in parked cars: an analysis of 171 fatalities in the United States, 1995–2002” – Injury Prevention, 2005.
- “Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?” – Washington Post, 2009.
- “As the Weather Warms, Hyperthermia Deaths Mount” – New York Times, 2010.
- “How to Remind a Parent of the Baby in the Car?” – New York Times, 2010.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year” (2011). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2013 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2013)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.