Warning: Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock Your Car!

As a former paramedic, I can tell you there are few things as heart-wrenching as responding to an event dealing with a child. Especially those events that are preventable such as drowning, poisoning and the following. Please read.

This week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its first-ever national campaign to get the message out about the harmful and potentially fatal effects of leaving children in hot cars.

The Where’s baby? Look Before You Lock message asks all parents, grandparents, and other care-givers to be mindful when leaving your vehicle.

Cars heat up quickly – even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. Young children, those under 4 years old, are particularly at risk because their bodies overheat more easily.

So this campaign is a call-to-action for parents, families, and everyone who cares about the safety of children. As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “While parents are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing heatstroke in hot cars, everyone in the community has a role to play in keeping kids safe.”

NHTSA also offers Hyperthermia Prevention Safety Tips:

  • Never leave a baby or young child unattended in a vehicle—even if you leave the windows partly open or the air conditioning on.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
    • Writing yourself a note and putting it where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
    • Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back when you leave the vehicle;
    • Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where you’ll notice it when leaving the vehicle.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

PS.  Dogs left in cars can suffer the same fate as children.

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About the Author

Jim began his EMS career in 1974. Since that time he has worked providing direct patient care, has been a Field Training Officer and more recently was the National Director of Safety and Risk for AMR. He is currently writing a book on achieving safety success in EMS and maintains an EMS Safety site and blog. (www.emsafety.net).

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