Everybody out of the car! Every time

By John Cawthorn, MD

Child in booster seat

It may be tempting to leave the kids in the car while you dash into the store to run an errand or into the house to grab something you forgot. You’re only going to be a second and it’s not worth all the hassle of getting them out and back in again. But what happens when you bump into a friend by the dairy case or the phone rings while you’re in the house? It’s so easy to get distracted.

Inside the car, the temperature can be as much as 35 degrees higher than the temperature outside. In a hot environment, a child’s body temperature rises three to five times higher than an adult’s, which means that leaving a child in a car on a hot day, even for a few minutes, could have tragic consequences. Heatstroke, which often occurs within minutes, can lead to permanent disability or death.

Please protect your child by following these guidelines:

  • Never leave your child in a parked car.
  • Teach your children that playing in or around parked cars is dangerous.
  • Be sure to keep car doors locked – even when the car is parked in your driveway.
  • Keep your car keys where your children can't reach them.
  • Teach your child never to play in the trunk.
  • Pay special attention to make sure your child hasn’t gotten in whenever you’re loading or unloading the car.
  • Never let infants sleep unattended in the car.
  • Take a head count when you reach your destination to make sure that everyone is out of the car.

Seek emergency medical attention if you think your child has been exposed to high temperatures from being in a parked car.

Dr. Cawthorn practices with CHKD Health System’s General Pediatrics.