Summer is here and boy is it hot!
With Arizona averaging high temperatures between 104 and 107 degrees each July, it is more important than ever to be aware of the dangers of leaving children and pets alone in hot cars.
A study published in 2018 by Arizona State University and the UC San Diego School of Medicine determined that if a car is parked in the sun on a hot summer day, its dashboard and other interior surfaces can reach a temperature of 160 degrees in about one hour. ( https://news.asu.edu/20180516-discoveries-asu-study-hot-cars-can-hit-deadly-temperatures-within-one-hour) At that level, anyone, especially young children, left in the vehicle can suffer third-degree burns on their skin, heat stroke, or internal injuries including brain and organ damage. The risk and severity of harm or damage greatly increases, the longer the child or pet is left in that environment. Don’t succumb to the notion because “it’s not that hot” or “I’ll only be a few minutes”; in the extreme temperatures that Arizona provides, it only takes minutes to create an emergency situation. Even when you might only plan on being gone a few minutes, unforeseen delays and things beyond your control may interfere with you returning to the car as quickly as you thought you would.
According to KidsAndCars.org, about 38 children die each year from heat stroke from being trapped in a hot car. Last year, 24 of the children that died were kids that gained access to the vehicle on their own; for example, climbing into a parked vehicle with their parents unaware.
Whether it is a situation of a child getting into a vehicle on his or her own and becoming locked inside, a parent who intentionally leaves their child inside a vehicle while they go inside a store, or an unfortunate example of Forgotten Baby Syndrome (when a parent forgets that the child is in their car and leaves them inside the vehicle), it is important to take precautions.
- Vehicles are not toys – don’t let children play in unattended cars
- Make it a habit of looking in your vehicle – front and back seats – before locking the doors and walking away; this should prevent Forgotten Baby Syndrome.
- Accountability partner – For any situation outside of your normal routine, have an accountability partner check in with you – For example, if you are dropping your child off at daycare, but it is normally your spouse’s routine, have your spouse call you to make sure the drop off went according to plan
What to do if you find a child in a hot car
Did you know that Arizona has a Hot Car Law? This means that if you find a child (or household pet) that is locked in an unattended vehicle and you believe they are in life-threatening and imminent danger, you may call 9-1-1 and enter the vehicle to rescue them without fear of getting into legal trouble (for example: being sued by the owner of the vehicle to repair any broken windows or damage the vehicle sustained during the rescue attempt). (Arizona Revised Statues 12-558.02) According to the Statute, these are the criteria that must happen, to avoid liability:
- Danger must be present
- Call 9-1-1
- Use appropriate level of force to open the vehicle (first determine that the vehicle is locked before breaking a window)
- Stay with the child (or pet) until first responders arrive
If able and willing, assess the child for signs and symptoms of heat stroke (hot, sweaty, flushed red skin, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, acting confused, agitated, or slurred speech, rapid and shallow breathing).
‘Safety Nick’, as he is affectionately known, is the owner and operator of Home Hazard Prevention, LLC (HHP). As a professional firefighter in the Valley since 2005 with an extensive background in responding to and preventing emergencies, Nick felt that it was time to help the citizens of Maricopa and Pinal Counties learn how to be safe and protect their loved ones in a proactive manner. In 2012, HHP was launched. With the support of his wonderful (and understanding!) wife and two beautiful children, Nick works tireless hours, not only to help save your family’s lives, as a firefighter and a community safety expert, but also to be able to spend quality time with his family. Nick moved to Arizona over 20 years ago and enjoys exploring our great state with his family.
Be sure to contact Home Hazard Prevention for any of your personal or family safety needs. From mobile CPR training to car seat education to infant safety (and much more!) HHP is here to help! Remember, a complete safety program does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. As a group of professional firefighters, there is no one more qualified than us to help keep your family safe! (480) 448-0266 or Nick@HomeHazardPrevention.com
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