Last month, in Tennessee, a one-year-old died after being left in a vehicle at his daycare center for more than six hours. A staff member picked the child up from his home but forgot to bring him into the center. Temperatures that day reached 91 degrees with a heat index of 94 degrees. When the child was discovered in the afternoon, it was too late. Unfortunately, these tragedies happen every summer. Parents, childcare providers, grandparents, and anyone who transports children need to be aware of the dangers of hot vehicles for small children.
Many hot vehicle deaths are preventable. Sometimes, children get into cars without their caregivers noticing and then can’t get themselves out. However, most hot vehicle deaths occur when the caregiver driving simply forgets to take the child out. It may be tempting to think that only bad parents or caregivers would forget a child, but that simply isn’t the case. It can happen to anyone. Usually, when parents or childcare providers are out of their normal routine, under stress, distracted, or all the above.
- Keep vehicles locked so children can’t play in them.
- Place something important, like a cell phone, in the backseat with the child.
- Childcare providers should establish strong classroom check-in and check-out procedures when transporting children. Classroom teachers should always confirm any absences with parents.
- Childcare providers should always walk to the back of the van or bus they’re using and check under all seats for children.
- Teach children to honk the horn if they’re accidentally left inside a vehicle.