Even great parents can forget a child in the back seat, and caregivers who aren't used to driving kids are especially likely to forget. A change in a caregiver’s normal routine is another risk factor. Unfortunately, heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children. Be sure to follow these three important rules to prevent child heatstroke in your car:
Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car
- It’s never OK to leave a child alone in a car, even for a few minutes, and even if the car is on.
- Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke.
- Heatstroke happens even on cloudy days and in outside temperatures below 70 degrees.
- Don’t let kids play in an unattended vehicle.
Look Before You Lock
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check that your child arrived safely.
Take Action if You See a Child Alone in a Car
- Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
- Don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business—protecting children is everyone’s business.
- "Good Samaritan" laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency.
If the Child Is Not Responsive or Is in Distress, Immediately:
- Call 911.
- Get the child out of the car.
- Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath).
- If the Child Is Responsive:
- Stay with the child until help arrives.
- Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.