The Louisiana Highway and Safety Commission is warning parents and caretakers to never leave young children in cars.
Louisiana highway safety officials say that the risk for heatstroke of children left in vehicles hits a peak in the summer months.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths from children being left in vehicles in 2014. There have been 636 deaths since 1998. In more than half of those cases, caregivers say that they forgot the child in the vehicle.
"We've already seen at least two tragedies this summer where children died after adults accidentally forgot them in vehicles," says Louisiana Highways Safety Commission Executive Director John Leblanc. "Other accidents occur when children get into hot vehicles on their own."
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has some tips for drivers to prevent these tragedies from happening.
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
- Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you get out of your car.
- Always lock the car and put the keys out of reach.
- Place something you'll need at your final destination, such as a cell phone, purse or briefcase, next to a child to avoid forgetting the child is in the rear seat.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission also wants bystanders to know what to do in the case that they discover a child that has been left inside of a car.
- Always make sure the child if responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
- If the child appears okay, you should attempt to find their parents; or have the facility's security or management page the car owner over the public address system.
- If there is someone with you, one person should actively look for the parent while the other waits at the car.
- If the child is not responsive and appears to be in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.
A child's body temperature can increase up to five times faster than that of an adult and on an 80-degree day temperatures inside of a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
If you suspect that a child may have had a heatstroke, you should cool the child down rapidly by spraying the child with cool water or with a garden hose, never with an ice bath. Then you should call 911 immediately.