As anyone who has watched the news over the last few weeks knows hot car deaths have once again been commanding attention this summer. Consider this one of those things regarding Oregon injuries to children that should not need to be said but, unfortunately, needs to be reinforced as we approach the hottest time of the year. As SafeKids Oregon reminds us all: “Hot weather and vehicles can be a deadly combination.”
The group’s latest news release continues: “There have been no overheating deaths in Oregon since 2004. Regrettably, 17 children have died from being left or trapped inside hot vehicles nationally in 2014 alone. In addition, there have been many ‘near misses.’” That national number is especially shocking when one considers that there is at least another six weeks of hot weather remaining pretty much everywhere in the country.
As they so often do, SafeKids offers easy and common sense advice on the best ways to avoid trouble. However, in addition to tips that are common knowledge – such as the fact that on a hot day the temperature inside a sealed car can rise by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes – they also offer some warnings that may come as news to many readers. Specifically, many people might not be aware that “cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.” This is an important point because it contradicts what many people think they know about hot cars and summer weather. Similarly, many readers might not be aware that the temperature outside need not be especially ‘hot’ for hot car deaths to occur. “With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.”
What makes hot car deaths and injuries to children especially tragic is how easily preventable they are. SafeKids offers some easy to remember pointers: Call 911 if you see something that looks wrong. “When transporting your child, place a cell phone, purse, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car near the child in the back seat. This will force the driver to open the back door and see the child.” The organization also stresses the importance of every parent knowing how to reach their child care provider in an emergency.
As an Oregon attorney who has handled many cases involving injuries to children, and as a long-time supporter of SafeKids Oregon and the important work they do, I recommend that every parent click the link below and remind themselves of the easy, indeed common sense, ways they can avoid becoming the latest sad, and avoidable, tragedy of the summer.