Keep Children Out of Hot Cars
On average, 37 children die each year in the United States as a result of pediatric vehicular heatstroke. Most of these deaths are the result of parents leaving children in vehicles. Here, we will discuss issues surrounding kids in hot cars. Parents and caregivers are reminded to never leave a child alone in a vehicle and to keep children from accessing vehicles.
We hope you and your loved ones stay safe during this difficult time. If you are injured in an accident that is not your fault, contact the experienced team at Anthem Injury Lawyers. We do not charge for initial consultations and will travel to you at home or in the hospital if necessary. Yours or your loved one’s job is to get well from injuries. Our job is to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Consult with our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers and have us review your case (if we determine you have one). We’ll tell you how we will pursue a positive outcome for you. Contact us today at (702) 857-6000 for a free consultation.
What Is Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke?
Pediatric vehicular heatstroke is when a child’s body overheats in a vehicle. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths in children under 15 years old.
- Heatstroke happens when the body is not able to cool itself quickly enough.
- A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.
- When left in a hot car, a child’s major organs begin to shut down when their temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F).
- A child can die when their temperature reaches 107 degrees F.
- Cars heat up quickly! In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees F.
- Cracking a window and/or air conditioning does little to keep it cool once the car is turned off.
- Heatstroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees F.
- Because of climate change, we can expect more days to be hotter.
We hope you and your loved ones stay safe this summer. If you or a family member are the victim of a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The team at Anthem Injury Lawyers is here to help you. Contact us today at (702) 857-6000 to make an appointment for a free consultation.
Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Statistics
Children should not die from heatstroke in a car. Unfortunately, children continue to be left in cars or gain access to vehicles and succumb to heatstroke. Jan Null, CCM, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University, has been tracking vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998. Since 1998 there have been 863 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States. The following information comes from Null’s website, NoHeatstroke.org:
- In 2020, there were 14 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States.
- In 2019, there were 52 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States.
- In 2018, 53 children died in hot cars. It was the deadliest year on record since 1998.
Null has discovered several trends over the years including:
- About 46 percent of the time when a child was forgotten, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at a daycare or preschool.
- Thursdays and Fridays — the end of the workweek — have had the highest deaths.
- Nearly 75 percent of children who are forgotten and die are under 2 years old.
These deaths are preventable. No child should be left in a car or gain access accidentally.
Reports of Clark County Children Locked in Cars
So how does this issue affect Nevada and how does personal injury law fit into this discussion?
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted Nevadan’s lives. Many parents have altered routines, lack childcare, and are generally concerned for their children’s safety. Unfortunately, this concern and caution can turn deadly when parents leave their children in vehicles. As early as May 2020, the news was already having to remind residents that children can die when left in hot cars. It was reported that emergency management services in Clark County had already received 102 reports of children being locked in cars. The news article said that many parents concerned about COVID-19 were leaving kids in the car to go into stores. Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle.
In Nevada Is it Legal to Leave a Child Unattended in a Car?
In Nevada, it is illegal to leave a child under 7 years old unattended in a motor vehicle. Per Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 202.485:
- A parent, legal guardian or other person responsible for a child who is 7 years of age or younger shall not knowingly and intentionally leave that child in a motor vehicle if:
- The conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child; or
- The engine of the motor vehicle is running or the keys to the vehicle are in the ignition, unless the child is being supervised by and within the sight of a person who is at least 12 years of age.
A person who violates NRS 202.485(1) can be charged with a misdemeanor. There is an exception to the statute for a person who unintentionally locks a motor vehicle with a child in the vehicle.
Tips to Prevent Leaving Children in Vehicles
Most pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths are accidents. This is terrifying because it means that these deaths are preventable. Stressed, busy, and distracted parents and caregivers can easily forget a child in the back seat. Many accidents occur when there is a change to the usual routine. It is important to always be mindful, especially during this stressful time. Below are some safety reminders from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Always check the back seat before exiting the car.
- Make sure all children are out of the car before locking it and walking away.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Stay off your cell phone.
- Be extra alert when there is a change in your routine. Changes can include a different route to work or childcare.
- Have your childcare provider call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.
- Put your cell phone, bag, briefcase, or purse in the back seat. This ensures you check the back seat when you arrive at your destination.
- Follow-up if someone else is driving your child. Check to make sure the child has arrived safely.
Tips to Prevent Children from Accessing Vehicles
Accidents happen even when parents are cautious. Children can still be harmed when they have access to vehicles. Below are some safety reminders from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Keep your car locked when it is parked to prevent a curious child from entering when no one is around. Many hot car deaths have occurred when a child mistakenly locks himself or herself inside.
- Make sure children do not have easy access to your car keys. Store them out of a child’s reach.
- Teach children that cars are not safe places to play.
- Keep rear fold-down seats closed to prevent a child from crawling into the trunk from inside the car.
- Remind children that cars, especially car trunks, should not be used for games like hide-and-seek.
Heatstroke is not the only danger for children with access to cars. Last year, a 9 year old Las Vegas boy accessed his mother’s car keys. He took her car for a ride in Las Vegas while she was in the shower. Witnesses reported that the vehicle narrowly missed other cars on the road and had been swerving in and out of the traffic lanes. Luckily, the police intervened and the child was safely returned home.
What If You See a Child Alone in a Car?
If you see a child alone in a car and are concerned, immediately call 911. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following steps.
If the child is not responsive or is in pain, 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.
Your action can help save a life.
EXPERIENCED LAS VEGAS PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
If you or a loved one are a victim in an accident, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you protect your rights. Award-winning personal injury law firm Anthem Injury Lawyers are a team of experienced, dedicated, Las Vegas personal injury lawyers and case managers. We are based in Henderson, Nevada and serve Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Summerlin, Reno, and Clark County. With over 25 years of experience, Anthem Injury Lawyers specializes in personal injury claims, such as the pediatric vehicular heatstroke we’ve discussed here, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and many more personal injury cases. Contact us today at (702) 857-6000 to make an appointment for a free consultation.