Simple reminders can prevent kids being left in hot cars

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Updated: 7/16/2014 9:59 am
You have heard the horror stories on national news outlets. Small children are being left to suffer illness or death from being left alone in hot cars.

"About 38 children a year die from heatstroke, being left in hot cars," said Amber Machin, a 3rd-year pediatric resident at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.

Sixteen US deaths have been reported already this year.

"It only takes fifteen minutes for a car to heat up to over 115 degrees, even on a day when it's only 80 degrees outside," Machin said.

Machin said in most cases, children are not left behind on purpose.

"Parents are either sleep deprived, stressed, there's change in routine. For example, one parent who doesn't normally take the child to day care, takes the child to daycare that day, throws off the routine...forgets to drop them off," she explained.

Though the human body is resilient and sweats to stay cool, it can only take so much.

"At very high temperatures, sustained temperatures for 15 minutes, we can have organs start to shut down. The cells in our body start to break down, especially our heart cells and our brain cells. And this will lead to coma and ultimately death," she said.

A mother to a six-month-old herself, Machin offered some simple methods to preventing these tragedies from happening.

"You can actually put one of the child's stuffed animals in the car seat when the child is not in the car. Then when you go to put the child in the car, you take this out, put it in the front seat so that it's a visual reminder that I have the baby in the car seat. So every time the baby is not in the car seat, you put this back," Machin said.

And always remember to keep your car doors locked when your vehicle is parked at home.

"There have been a few cases of children playing. Parents are unaware. They lock themselves inside on accident," she said.

Follow this link for more safety guidelines and information from KidsAndCars.org.


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