Tips to make sure children don't get left in a hot car

baby carseatLast year 39 children in the U.S. died as a result of being left in a hot car.

This was far more than the total of 24 in 2015, according to a study by the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science and posted on the website noheatstroke.org. Two children in Maryland lost their lives after being left in a hot car in 2015 but no Maryland children died last year.

With the weather getting warmer, however, here are some tips to help prevent children being left in hot cars from The Family Tree, Maryland's leading child abuse and neglect prevention organization.

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute. Be sure to keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages.
  • Make a habit to check the backseat every time you get out of the car.
  • Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Leave your purse, wallet and/or cell phone in the backseat next to your child.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat, and when the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
  • Buy a child safety mirror that attaches to your rearview mirror so that you can see your child at all times.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.

Of the 705 child vehicular heatstroke deaths from 1998 through mid 2017, 54 percent happened when a child was forgotten by a caregiver, 28 percent were the result of a child playing in an unattended vehicle and 17 percent were intentional, according to information on noheatstroke.org.

When it's 80 degrees outside the temperature inside a car can heat up to 123 within 60 minutes, according to information on the website. Heatstroke occurs when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees and his or her thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed. When it gets to 107 degrees, cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down. This can rapidly lead to death and can happen even faster for children.

So parents should never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute, according to the website.

For details visit noheatstroke.org.

Updated May 2017

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