TRENTON – With summer temperatures climbing, the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) reminds parents and caregivers to never leave a young child alone in a vehicle.
The medical journal Pediatrics indicates that vehicles heat up rapidly, principally in the first 15 to 30 minutes. Leaving a window down slightly provides little relief, if any.
“Under no circumstances, not even for a minute, should a young child ever be left alone in a vehicle,” DCF Commissioner Allison Blake said. “This is especially true during the summer months when the interior temperatures of a car can soar very quickly to dangerously high levels.”
Blake said there are some simple things people can do to protect children from being left unattended.
One recommendation for parents and caregivers is to keep a stuffed animal in a child’s unoccupied car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat. The stuffed animal will act as a visual reminder to remove the child from the vehicle upon reaching your destination.
Other steps adults can take to keep young children safe include:
- Not allowing children to play in an unattended vehicle;
- Removing kids from the vehicle before unloading groceries or other items;
- Looking inside at the vehicle’s front and back seats before locking the door and walking away; and,
- Calling 911 immediately if you see a child unattended in a vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under age 14.
According to an estimate by San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, since 1998 there have been at least 619 heatstroke deaths of children left in vehicles. More than half of these deaths involved children less