Tragedy strikes when you least expect it. Sometimes you let your guard down for just one second and it affects the rest of your life. So with summer temperatures on the rise, ER doctors are reminding parents about the dangers of leaving their kids and pets in a hot car — even for a quick trip inside.
Dr. Purva Grover, an emergency medicine physician for Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, says the reminder may sound like common sense; but each year a handful of tragic hot car deaths occur in the U.S. anyways.
“It’s heart wrenching when this happens because it’s usually a very tired or exhausted parent juggling 17 things and this is the most horrible feeling to come to terms with,” said Dr. Grover. “One would think ‘how does that happen,’ but it happens.”
In truth, there are many scenarios where a parent or caregiver could forget a child or pet in the backseat. For example, maybe they aren’t normally the one who takes the child to daycare, and absentmindedly went straight to work instead.
Scorching hot days aren’t the only concern, either. Even on a 70 degree day, the inside of a car can reach more than 115 degrees.
If you ever see a child inside a hot car, don’t hesitate to call 911, even if you think it’s overkill
To help prevent such a tragic accident, Dr. Grover recommends leaving something like your purse, shoe or cellphone in the backseat. It seems strange, but if it’s something you immediately need when you get out of your vehicle, you’ll be more inclined to not forget.
“As a bystander, if you see something, do not hesitate to be polite — ‘this is none of my business’ — intervening could save a life, so call the police, call whoever you need to,” she said. “Get these kids out as soon as you can and take them to the appropriate medical facility if exhaustion and or fatigue has set in.”
Dr. Grover also advises parents to lock up their vehicles once they park. Children and pets have died after climbing inside while playing and have accidentally gotten trapped.
The latest hot car death happened this week in Miami. A child was accidentally left in a sweltering vehicle for six hours. And there’s been another nine reported heatstroke deaths in 2022 so far in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council. Annually, almost 40 children under 15 die from being left in hot cars.
The safety council states there is no safe amount of time to leave a child in a vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand. And even if you leave the air conditioner on.
If you see a child unattended in a hot car, you are advised to treat it as an emergency and call 911.