At least 23 children nationwide have died this summer after
being left unattended in hot, parked cars. Several of these
deaths occurred within recent weeks. With more weeks of summer
weather ahead, the Idaho Transportation Department joins safety
advocates and other transportation officials to remind parents
that leaving children unattended in a vehicle can have deadly
Such was the case in Boise late last month when a 10-week-old
infant died after spending eight hours in the family SUV.
Temperatures that day reached 106 degrees.
Temperatures inside cars can soar within a matter of minutes.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW),
inside car temperatures can reach as high as 150 degrees in
as little as 10 minutes. As heat takes effect, a child's temperature
increases. As body temperature rises above 106 degrees, the
risk of permanent brain damage rapidly increases, and death
Temperatures rise rapidly in a vehicle, no matter whether
it is parked in the shade or sun, said Dr. Jeffrey W.
Runge, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children
can't take that intense heat and can die in a matter of minutes.
The real tragedy is that these deaths are totally preventable.
While nobody would intentionally place their children at
such a risk, say IDHW officials, in the rush to complete a
quick errand, someone might make the mistake of thinking children
would be safe in the car for a few minutes. On the contrary,
its never safe to leave a child (or a pet) in a parked
From 1996 to the present, nearly 200 children died of heat-related
injuries after being left in parked cars. Children 3 and younger
accounted for more than 90 percent of the deaths. Most of
the children were in child safety seats and left behind or
forgotten by an adult (as was the case in Boise), while others
gained access to an unlocked car and could not get out.
The national SAFE KIDS campaign offers the following
safety precautions to combat heat-related injuries in cars:
Never leave your child unattended in a motor
vehicle, even with a window open.
Teach children not to play in, on or around
cars. Once inside vehicles equipped with child-resistent
interior locks, young children have no way to escape.
Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach
older children how they can unlock the door if they become
trapped in a motor vehicle.
Always lock car doors and trunks and keep
keys out of children's reach.
Watch children closely around cars, particularly
when loading or unloading items.
Ensure that all children exit the vehicle
at your destination.
Don't overlook sleeping infants.
Place an unmistakable reminder of a child's
presence where you'll be sure to see it before you leave
the vehicle.For example, place a diaper bag right next to
you, your briefcase or your lunch bag.
Check to make sure seat surfaces and equipment
(car seat and seat buckles) arent too hot.
Car trunks can also be especially hazardous.
In very hot weather, within minutes a child trapped in a
trunk can suffer a heat stroke that leads to permanent disability
or even death. Keep these safety precautions in mind:
Keep the trunk of your car locked at all
times, especially when parked in the driveway or near the
Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help
prevent kids from getting into the trunk from the passenger
area of a car.
Put car keys out of children's reach and
For the third year in a row, SAFE KIDS and General Motors
are conducting a national public awareness campaign aimed
at educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of leaving
children unattended in motor vehicles. The "Never Leave
Your Child Alone" initiative includes brochures in English
and Spanish that deliver potentially lifesaving information.
Brochures can be downloaded at www.safekids.org*
or ordered by calling 866-700-0001 (press/choose option number