With the summer months heating up, many parents are taking their children on trips to the park, the beach and other attractions.
However, parents may need to be concerned about more than just sunburn and temper tantrums. Florida ranks number two in the nation for hot-car deaths among children.
Children’s bodies heat up faster than adults do, making them more susceptible to heat stroke in a hot car.
Amber Rollins is the director of KidsAndCars.org, a non-profit child safety organization. She explains that there are many factors in estimating how hot a car will get. Was it parked out in the sun or underneath the shade? Is the interior dark or light? Is the exterior dark or light? Regardless of these factors, Rollins explains that cars act as a greenhouse. The car absorbs heat but does not let the heat escape.
That means the inside of a car can heat up to over 20 degrees hotter than what the temperature is outside, says Jaime Verberne, a Child Safety Expert with St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. She should know – last year she baked cookies on the dashboard of a car as a demonstration. Verberne urges parents and community members to educate themselves on the dangers of leaving children in the car, accidentally or not.
Demonstrations like these show parents just how warm it can get inside of a vehicle for little ones, and Verberne says another demonstration is planned for the coming week.
“We will do whatever it takes to grab the attention of families in our community to let them know that this is serious,” Verberne says. “It can happen very quickly, and it can be prevented.”
This week, Evenflo, a child-care item manufacturer recently announced a car seat that would be able to alert parents if a child is left behind in the car. The technology, named Sensor Safe, will be featured on several Evenflo models and is available exclusively at Walmart. Sensors on both the car seat and a sensor attached to the dashboard set off a series of tones when the ignition is shut off and a baby is still inside the car seat. Similarly to how cars notify drivers when seatbelts aren’t buckled or doors are not locked, the car seat will notify the driver if the baby is still strapped inside or not properly secured.
Rollins cautions parents not to overlook the new technology so quickly. "If you don't think that you are capable of leaving your child behind, you're probably not going to buy a specific product to prevent it," she says. "For those who understand that this could happen to any loving and responsible parent, it's fantastic that there's something finally on the market that they can get to protect their child."
On average, 37 children die in hot cars in heatstroke deaths each year, and as of July 27th of this year, 11 children have died of heatstroke in hot cars.