Summer heat holds hidden dangers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It’s official. Summer is here, and besides the temporary relief offered by afternoon thunderstorms, the heat and humidity are here to stay until at least September.
The summer months also bring a schedule change for people with children. No school means alternate arrangements, day care, babysitters and the occasional scheduling snafu that leaves a parent scrambling for accommodations. Unfortunately, this can be the perfect recipe for disaster.
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, each year around 40 children die in the U.S. as a result of heat-related illnesses from being left in an unattended vehicle. Many of these children are simply forgotten in the back seats of vehicles as adults rush about their daily tasks. Child safety advocates recommend
drivers place something they will need, such as a cellphone, purse or briefcase, next to a child to avoid forgetting the child is in the rear seat.
Other child victims get trapped in vehicles after entering through an unlocked door or trunk, so be sure to lock all possible entrances before leaving a vehicle parked.
Still other children are deliberately left in parked cars while a driver does some “short” errands. According to the Commission, the temperature inside a closed vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Compounding the problem is the fact that a child’s core temperature can rise several times faster than that of an adult.
It is never safe to leave a child in an unattended car for any amount of time. The same goes for pets, which do not even have the ability to sweat to regulate their body temperature.
So don’t let your next summer outing turn into a tragedy. Having to get a child in and out of a vehicle several times over the course of a shopping trip may seem like a big inconvenience for both driver and child, but it is nothing compared to what could happen if that child is left in the summer heat.