The headlines practically screamed at me! What a waste of precious life! All because we cannot take basic precautions? It immediately brought back memories of another headline just a few month back
How many times have we left our kids in the car while we finished off an errand in “just a
minute”. Most unknowingly, that minute can turn into a few minutes and that for a child trapped in a hot, parked car can be fatal. It is the sun and the resultant heat stroke, that kills, not the temperature outside. Even on a cool day, just by virtue of being out in the sun, in closed confines, can heat up the inside by around 22° C in an hour! Most of this (80%) increase occurs in the first half an hour.
You might feel that by leaving the windows just a crack open or by running the AC full blast prior to parking the car, can prevent this but researchers found that the spike in temperature was delayed by just five minutes.
So what should you do to prevent this catastrophe?
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute!
- ‘Look before you lock’ – Make this a rule – Always look in the back seat before locking the car, if you have children, to see whether any children are left behind – Some times in the hustle and bustle of day to day life or if the mind is preoccupied, one just quickly walks out of the car, locking it and forgetting that one has left behind one’s child.
- Keep an item that you will definitely need, like your wallet or bag in the back on the floor, so you will be forced to check at the back.
- Another trick – keep a large, stuffed animal in the child’s car seat (You do have an age-appropriate seat, don’t you!!!). When the child is sitting in the seat, the toy can be kept in the front and this serves as a reminder.
- Always lock your car – after you have a look inside, never keep an unattended car unlocked. Also, please remember to put the hand brake on and the car in gear when it is parked (there have been many instances when children have accidentally set the car in motion with disastrous consequences both for themselves as well as for others!)
- Keys and / or remotes are not toys. Children are especially fascinated by the sounds of the remote and the lights that come off and on and may be able to unlock a locked car, get to it and be trapped in it.
- If your child is missing, first check the car and the trunk of the car – quite a few kids have used this as a hiding place and get trapped in it.
- If someone other than you is dropping off your child, please make sure that the child has reached safely.
If you see a child alone in a car and the child appears awake and alert
- Do not wait for more than a few minutes to take action if the driver does not return.
- Stay with the child till the driver returns and if not within a few minutes then break down the windows with the help of others.
- While you are waiting, have someone hunt for the driver.
If you see a child alone in a car and the child appears unresponsive or in distress
- Call 100 (the police) immediately.
- Break open the windows and get the car out.
- Spray the child with water (no ice please!).
- If you are trained in CPR and if you feel that the child needs it, initiate it.