Safe Family's
Summer Safety

In Summer, Never Leave Your Child Buckled Up and Alone
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 vehicle.

"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

Erin Gifford is a freelance writer in Ashburn, Virginia. She frequently writes on parenting, education, and children's health and safety.


Heather Paul
National SAFE KIDS Campaign
Phone: (202) 662-0623 (via Tomeka Rawlings)

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