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As summer arrives and the temperature climbs in Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette and Highland Park, there are new injury risks to consider. This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is issuing important reminders to caregivers of young children about the dangers of children being left inside hot vehicles.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that there are tragic deaths every year when parents, daycare providers, bus drivers and other caregivers make mistakes and leave children inside vehicles. Leaving a child inside a car is never OK and steps need to be taken to ensure that children do not experience severe injuries or death as a result of excessive heat.

The Risks of Children in Hot Vehicles

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children left inside vehicles are at risk of serious injury even on days that may not seem that hot. When the temperature outside reaches the low 80s, a car’s interior temperature can reach a deadly level in as little as 10 minutes. This is true even when the window has been partly rolled down for the child. Children whose body temperatures reach 107 degrees can suffer permanent brain damage, and the children can die quickly from complications associated with the heat. The results can include blindness, hearing loss, cognitive impairment and other consequences associated with brain injury.

Over the course of 2014, 30 children were killed after being left inside hot vehicles, and there were many more instances in which children suffered “close calls” that left them alive but impaired. Since 1998, a total of 637 fatalities have been reported as a result of young children left inside vehicles. Kids aged 4 and under are at the greatest risk of suffering brain damage or death as a result of being trapped inside hot cars.

Injuries and deaths due to excessive heat are 100 percent preventable if caregivers exercise reasonable care to avoid a child being left inside a vehicle. Children can get locked inside of a car when they go play in the vehicle without an adult knowing. Kids can be left inside of a bus, church van, or daycare van if the caregivers who transported them did not do a head count when they took the kids out of the vehicle. Parents can also accidentally leave a child inside a car if they forget to take the child to daycare. This is an especially common issue when parents who do not normally drive a child as a part of their daily routine end up leaving the child sleeping in the back seat of a vehicle.

The NHTSA has launched a campaign to remind parents and caregivers to take precautions to prevent tragedies. Caregivers are advised to always make a habit of looking in both the front and back of the vehicle before walking away. Putting a purse or briefcase in the back seat is also advisable as a reminder to look in the back seat. When a child is spotted inside of a vehicle by anyone, the observer is urged to call 911 right away. Children in distress due to being left in hot vehicles should also be removed from the car and rapidly cooled to minimize health consequences of overheating.

After an injury, contact Deratany & Kosner at 800-529-7285. Serving Chicago and surrounding areas including Evanston, Wilmette and Highland Park. 

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