a child smiles while buckled in her car seat on a hot day.

The fact that temperatures are rising as we move through summer is not news. What is making headlines, however, is the fact that the Pennsylvania Senate has pass a bill that should help decrease the number of children who die in hot cars.

Sen. Tom Killion, who represents the Chester and Delaware County, wrote the new bill which is designed to broaden the “Good Samaritan” law. Anyone who breaks a window or forces entry into a vehicle to save an unattended child will be protected under the law. If this bill is passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, it should help prevent heatstroke deaths inside hot cars.

As many as 20 other states already have laws on the books with a similar goal. The sad truth is that this type of tragedy occurs every year and almost in every state. Last year, a record number of 52 kids died inside hot vehicles nation-wide.

Cars Heat Up Fast

Vehicles get hot quickly, gaining up to 20°F in only 10 minutes. Parking in the shade or opening the windows isn’t enough to safely leave a child in the car. An outside temperature of just 57°F is high enough to be dangerous.

The Danger of Heatstroke

Young children don’t regulate body temperature as efficiently as adults. That’s why they can overheat quickly. In fact, a kid’s body temperature can increase five times faster than an adult. Heatstroke occurs when the body can cool itself down. For a child, when their body reaches 104°F it’s a life-threatening situation; and they are unlikely to survive a body temperature of 107°F.

How You Can Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Babies and toddlers should never be left unattended in a vehicle, even if they’re restrained in a car seat. However, most hot car injuries and deaths are an accident. Simply forgetting that a sleeping child is in the back of the car or that it’s their day to drop off the baby at daycare can turn tragic. So, what can parents, caregivers, and good samaritans do to help save children’s lives?

Lock the Car Doors

Kids are curious. If a parked car is left unlocked, a child could get in without you knowing it. Then, it’s easy for a young child to lock him or herself inside. Parents should get in the habit of locking their vehicle and storing the keys out of children’s reach. But this also applies to visitors, neighbors, and other drivers.

Set Routines & Reminders

Some simple tricks can help remind you that there is a little one in the car. Parents can stow their purses, wallets or other important items on the rear seat when they drive. If this is made into a habit, it forces you to look into the back of the car and open a rear door each time you exit the vehicle. This type of simple routine can help prevent locking a child in the car.

Parents and caregivers are often busy, distracted or frazzled. Create some reminders for yourself to help avoid this danger. For example, you can ask the school or daycare to call you whenever the child is more than 15 minutes late for drop-off time. You could also call the person responsible for driving the child to ensure that he or she has arrived securely.

Get a Safety Gadget or App

There are all types of devices and smartphone applications to help reduce the number of hot car deaths.

  • SensorSafe – a device connected to the car seat which sends real-time notifications if the child gets too hot or comes unbuckled.
  • BackSeat – is an app developed by a father. It’s free and easy to use. Once downloaded to a smartphone, the app automatically turns on when it senses movement at the speed of a vehicle. Then, it sends reminders to the user and other emergency contacts if a child may have been left unattended.
  • Rear Seat Reminder System – General Motors offers this safety feature. It senses when the back door was opened after the car was started and reminds you to check the back seat when the car is turned off.
  • Driver’s Little Helper – this device can be used with any car seat and syncs with an app. It also monitors temperature and sends reminders after the expected arrival time.

Take Action

Don’t wait for something horrible to happen before putting these safety measures in place. Or, if you see a child left in a parked car, take action. Call 911 immediately. Then, try to open the car by whatever means are necessary. You may become a lifesaver!

Car Safety Resources

Read more about Vehicle Crash Safety Ratings and Safe Driving Tips Based on Pennsylvania Collision Statistics.

Stay safe on the roads this summer. Badell’s Collision Repair cares about drivers and passengers. To request information or get an estimate, use our online form.

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