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Child Safety: "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock"

San Diego is renowned for its Mediterranean-like climate and warm and sunny temperatures, with the added bonus that the temperatures here in the summer don’t often see the kind of heat spikes that cause serious heat waves in other parts of the country.

Despite the consistency and moderate nature of our sunny summers, however, we do occasionally see some hotter days in which outside temperatures can reach 80°F and higher, particularly during the months of July and August. This summer, San Diego parents would be wise to keep in mind the statistics behind the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” campaign promoting child safety during the hotter summer months.

The facts are sombre: in 2013 at least 44 children in the U.S. died as a result of being left unattended in vehicles, with an unknown number being moderately or severely injured. Parents and caregivers might think a window rolled down a few inches provides children inside a parked car with adequate protection. However, when temperatures are in the low 80s, it can take only ten minutes for the vehicle’s internal temperature to reach deadly levels – even with the window opened two inches. Another alarming fact? Heatstroke can happen even when the external temperature is as low as 57°F.

Young children are more susceptible to the heat than adults. In fact, young children’s bodies can heat up three to five times more quickly than adult bodies. In particular, infants and children under four years of age are especially vulnerable to heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses. Death occurs when a child’s body temperature reaches 107°F.

While you may be diligent about not leaving your children in parked vehicles when the temperatures are high, you should also be watchful and aware of other scenarios in which children may be exposed to death and injuries from heatstroke from within a parked vehicle. These include children climbing into a parked vehicle to play without your knowledge, and the non-routine transporting of children, particularly sleeping infants in the back of the vehicle. In the latter case, because it’s not within the normal daily routine, parents and caregivers not used to driving children around may inadvertently forget the children are inside the car.

The NHTSA also urges people who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to call 911 to obtain emergency assistance. It’s important that children suffering from the effects of heat while inside a vehicle be removed as soon as possible and cooled down.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.