By Erin Gifford
Parents may mistakenly think they can safely leave their child
in the car for a quick moment while they run an errand. Unfortunately,
even a few minutes alone in a hot car can result in tragedy.
A new study released by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign found
that humidity makes a hot, closed car even more dangerous to
children buckled up inside. Even at outdoor temperatures as
mild as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, a closed vehicle can heat up
to dangerous levels in mere minutes.
When left in a hot car, a young child's body temperature may
increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, which
can lead to serious injury or even death. From 1996 through
2000, more than 120 children -- most of them three and younger
-- died from heatstroke after being left alone in a hot, closed
"No parent deliberately exposes their child to what becomes
an oven-like temperature. The price they pay for this ignorance
and absentmindedness is unimaginable," said Heather Paul,
Ph.D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
How to Keep Your Kids Car-Safe this Summer
* Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
* Never leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle, even with
a window slightly open. This applies to pets as well. On a typical
sunny summer day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach
deadly levels within moments.
* Always lock car doors and trunks -- even at home, and keep
keys out of children's reach.
* Watch children closely around cars, particularly when loading
or unloading. Check to ensure that all children leave the vehicle
when you reach your destination. Don't overlook sleeping infants.
* When restraining children in a car that has been parked in
the heat, check to make sure car seats and seatbelt buckles
aren't too hot.
Free brochures, in English and Spanish, on the dangers of leaving
children unattended in vehicles are available through the more
than 300 SAFE KIDS coalitions nationwide. Parents also can download
the free brochure at www.safekids.org.