WHEATON, Ill. – With the recent heat wave affecting the Chicagoland area, the Wheaton Police Department reminds parents and caregivers to take steps to be sure not to leave children unattended in vehicles.
Children overheat easily, and those under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness and death. Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131-172 degrees F when outside temperatures are 80-100 degrees F.
It is critical that caregivers know it is never safe to leave a child unattended in a car, especially in hot weather. The Wheaton Police Department is urging people to have an acute awareness of this very dangerous situation.
While it may seem hard to believe that a caregiver could forget a child is in the car, a majority of child hyperthermia fatalities in vehicles occur due to a change in the driver's routine, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Wheaton Police Department offers the following guidelines to caregivers:
- Place something that you'll need at your next stop – such as a purse or briefcase – near the child safety seat. This simple act could help prevent you from accidentally forgetting a child.
- If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan. Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
- Teach children not to play in, on or around vehicles.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open. A vehicle can heat to dangerous, life-threatening levels in only 10 minutes.
- Always lock a vehicle's doors and trunk. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children's reach.