Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

Health Department and Safe Kids USA Remind Adults of the Dangers Posed By Leaving Children Alone in Vehicles

During the past few months, seventeen children have died across the country while alone in a vehicle, and summer, a prime time for such accidents, has just begun. The concern is that a child's body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's, so it only takes a few short minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated. Also, in just 10 minutes, a car's temperature can increase by 19 degrees - and it continues to rise. There is no evidence that cracking the windows helps prevent the temperature in vehicle interiors from reaching dangerous levels. In fact, sunlight coming through car windows makes the car work like an oven.

Every year, more than 30 children die because they are left alone in a car.

The Marion County Health Department and Safe Kids USA strongly advise that children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, no matter the circumstances. All vehicles should be locked and trunks secured to prevent accidental deaths.

If you see a child left unattended in car, try to gain access to the vehicle and call for help. Police and emergency responders are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. Other advice includes:

  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
  • Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, "Did you drop off at daycare today?"
  • Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care.
  • Teach children not to play in any vehicle.

"Keep keys out of children's reach. Cars are not playgrounds or babysitters. Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing," said Serifatu Walton, Injury Prevention Coordinator for the Marion County Health Department and Coalition Coordinator, Safe Kids Indianapolis.