Summer means a lot of amazing things: warm weather, barbecues, road trips, camping, and all sorts of fun in the sun. This season is the perfect time to enjoy good company in the great outdoors — and it’s important to not let the heat get to your head when it comes to the safety of your most vulnerable passengers, children and pets.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 39 children die due to heatstroke after being trapped in a hot vehicle each year. This risk is even higher for your animals, who are less able to regulate their body temperatures and are often considered hardy enough to “tough it out” for a few minutes.
While these statistics may seem daunting, it can be simple to keep your loved ones safe this summer. Here are a few easy tips!
1. Never leave a passenger in a locked vehicle, even if it’s “just for a minute.”
Studies have shown that even if the temperature feels mild outside, the internal temperature of a parked, closed car can reach dangerous levels within minutes. When in doubt, bring your children and pets inside with you — or have someone else wait with the vehicle’s air conditioning turned on.
2. Lock your parked car after all passengers exit.
Enjoying some time at the park or in your own yard with your vehicle nearby? You may think it’s safe to keep it unlocked — but this can be a dangerous situation waiting to happen. Kids can accidentally get into the car and lock themselves inside while playing. It’s always best to make sure your empty car is locked, no matter where you are.
3. Watch out for hot buckles and car seats!
While keeping kids and pets safe from overheating in a parked car is a major summer safety concern, it’s not the only thing that could cause harm. Hot car seats and metal belt buckles can burn and blister young skin. Try to cover your car seats and belt buckles before you leave your parked car in the sun.
4. Pay attention to signs of heat distress.
Confusion, dizziness, and nausea for children — and heavy panting or excessive drooling for your pets — can be signs they are suffering from heat distress. It’s important to educate yourself on heat exhaustion or heat stroke symptoms during the toasty summer months so you know what to look for and can catch it early.