Sports & Recreation
 
Leaving Your Child in an Unattended Vehicle is Dangerous
By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

Currently, only 19 states in the nation have laws that make it illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. With temperatures in the 100s here in the Valley, leaving your child in an unattended vehicle—whether the vehicle is running or not—could be very dangerous, even deadly. The child’s safety should be your No. 1 concern.

According to www.kidsandcars.org, a website that documents the dangers of leaving children unattended in and around vehicles, “On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car, and the end result can be injury or even death.”

The Greenhouse Effect
Those of us who are familiar with the Valley heat are well aware that the moment we turn our vehicles off, the inside of the vehicle will start heating up. Even with the windows cracked open a little, the temperature of the inside of a vehicle can reach to 150 degrees in minutes. The first 10 minutes is when temperatures rise in your vehicle. According to www.kidsandcars.org, “Children have died from heatstroke in cars in temperatures as low as 60 degrees.”

Contributing Factors
Even some of the most careful parents can forget that a child is in the car. Contributing factors include a change in your normal daily routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue and distractions. Other contributing factors are a rear-facing car seat (not knowing whether you have a child there or not) or when children fall asleep in the car (they are quiet).

Prevention/Safety Tips

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars.
  • Be sure to check your back seat before leaving your vehicle.
  • Create a reminder to check the back seat. Something like tying a colored string on your inside door handle or putting your phone or a stuffed animal on the front seat may help.
  • Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times to prevent children from crawling into hot vehicles.
  • Be especially careful during busy times, including holidays, a family emergency, etc. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Use drive-through services when available and pay for gas at the pump.

“It is the overall goal of the Community and Salt River Fire Department to make sure no child will die because they were left unattended in a vehicle,” said Salt River Fire Department Deputy Chief  Kevin Makil. “NEVER leave children alone in any vehicle, especially during these hot summer months. Before leaving any vehicle “LOOK, BEFORE YOU LOCK’ Let’s keep our children safe.”

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