Hot car deaths preventable, but look before you leave the car

Infant hot car injuries and death happen every year, and they can happen even in temperatures that are more like spring than summer.

“A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than that of an adult,” said Cherie Sage with Safe Kids Kansas. “Their regulatory systems aren’t fully developed yet. They absorb heat more quickly and they’re less likely to be able to perspire and regulate that temperature in ways that we adults can.”

In many cases where babies and toddlers die in hot cars, the parent thinks the child is safely where they normally would be.

“We refer to that as misremembering,” said Sage. “You’re not really forgetting your child. You don’t forget that you’re a parent, but you’re misremembering. This is something that we do every day. The human brain loves patterns, routines and things like that. When we have that routine, we know, I’m going to get up, we’re going to get my child ready, we’re going to go to daycare and I’m going to drop them off and then I’m going to go to work and I’m going to start my workday. If anything changes in that pattern, then you are susceptible.”

There is one great way to be sure you and baby are safe in more than one way. Put your cellphone back there every time you drive.

I guarantee you, you’re not going to forget your cell phone when you get to your destination,” said Sage. “Most of us need that, either for contact or your calendar or whatever that is. Put that in the backseat. It also has a secondary benefit, which is, it keeps it out of the hands of a driver that might be tempted to glance at that screen.”

Also, for additional safety, when you get ready to leave home, do a quick walkaround of your car to check for low tires or leaking fluids. It can help keep a toddler who isn’t riding with you from ending up in front of or behind your vehicle as you pull out.