For young children, summer is about warm weather, splashing around the pool and family daytrips. These activities often involve a motor vehicle and that, combined with a change in routine during which people may drop their guard, may present dangers. The key is for parents to educate themselves about potential motor vehicle accidents, then actively pay attention.
Hyperthermia and Heat Stroke
With many things on their minds, parents can quickly forget a child who is usually in school is in the backseat. Parents need to be extra careful in the summer not to leave children in the car unattended and should also avoid it in the cooler months.
If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach the 100 degree mark within minutes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration advises that even temperatures in the 60s can rise beyond 100 inside your closed-up car. Children’s bodies overheat much faster than adults and leaving the window open a small amount may not be enough.
Avoid leaving your child in the car unattended by placing your purse or briefcase in the backseat with your child. Also try writing yourself a note and placing it where you will see it when exiting the vehicle. At home, keep your keys out of your child’s reach.
Most new cars are built with power windows, a feature great for convenience but potentially dangerous for children.
Implementing strong rules protects your children. Never allow your children to be alone in your vehicle. Teach children not to play with automobile window switches. For your part, never leave the keys in the ignition when you are not there. Before purchasing, investigate vehicles with safeguards, such as power windows that automatically go down when a child’s arm gets in the way.
Motor Vehicle Backovers
Adults pulling vehicles out of driveways always need to watch for young children. But the need is greatest in the warm weather when children spend more time outdoors.
Parents and drivers must both work to keep children safe. If you are a parent, keep a close eye on your children. Teach them not to play around cars and to move away when a driver enters a vehicle to avoid a motor vehicle accident. Teach children not to leave their toys in the driveway. Drivers can back out of their driveways slowly and ask children to stand on the sidewalk.
Children love to play and that sometimes leads them to the danger of a vehicle trunk. Because this can be deadly, parents must watch youngsters closely and teach children trunks are for cargo, not for playing.
Always lock car doors and trunks and keep keys out of sight. Keep the rear fold-down seats closed or locked to prevent your children from climbing.
Lastly, explain the dangers of playing in the trunk and show young children how to use the “glow in the dark” trunk release in case of emergency. Auto manufacturers have been required to install these releases in new vehicles since September 2001. If you have an older car, ask your local car dealer about retrofitting your vehicle with the release.
For more tips on children and motor vehicle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.