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Never Leave a Child Alone Inside a Car

Don’t leave a child alone in a car. Ever. Ignoring that rule can lead to tragedy in just minutes.

Cars can quickly become deadly, even when parked in shady areas or when a window is cracked. According to the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), the temperature inside an average car or truck can increase 20 degrees in 10 minutes.

A child’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s, causing heatstroke, brain damage and even death. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. That’s why it’s so important to never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.

Watch this video to learn more about steps you can take to avoid a possible tragedy.

Here are some simple ways to keep kids safe:

Set reminders.To prevent accidentally leaving a child in a safety seat, always look in the back seat every time you exit the car. If you are sometimes forgetful, try placing something beside the child that is needed at the end of your drive, such as a purse, briefcase, cellphone or other important belonging. You may also tape a note to the dashboard or consider setting an alarm on your smartphone as a reminder. In addition, have your spouse or childcare center call you if the child does not show up on time.

Lock your car. Everyone, not just parents, should keep their cars locked. This will prevent a child from entering when no one else is around and accidentally locking himself or herself inside. Do not let children play in or around a car, and teach them that cars aren’t a safe place to play. If a child is missing, quickly check all cars, including the trunks.

Be aware of routine changes. Studies have shown that a change in routine increases the risk of leaving a child in a car. Under circumstances that aren’t typical, parents or caregivers are more likely to forget the child is in the car.

Avoid distractions. In our high-tech world, it’s easy for parents or caregivers to get caught up in cell calls, internet surfing, text messaging or games on their smartphone. These distractions can cause parents to forget a child is in the car.

Take action. People who see a child alone in a car and are concerned about the child’s health should immediately call 911. In addition, a good Samaritan law that went into effect in Tennessee on July 1, 2014, gives legal protection to those who attempt to remove a child from a vehicle for the sake of saving a life. According to the law, those who have a reasonable belief a child is in danger and have contacted law enforcement/fire department for assistance can forcibly enter a locked vehicle without fear of punishment.

Know the warning signs of heatstroke. If a child is in distress because of heat, get him or her out of the heat as quickly as possible. Warning signs of heatstroke include:

  • Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
  • No sweating
  • A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • A throbbing headache
  • Strange behavior

If you notice these signs, cool the child rapidly by spraying him or her with cool water or a garden hose. But NEVER use an ice bath.

And remember that heatstroke can happen even when it’s not hot outside.

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