During the summer months, temperatures inside of car with its windows rolled up can increase to dangerous levels very quickly. According to a report from ABC news, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that, "When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172.... The temperature inside a closed car rises most quickly during the first 15 minutes that it is left in the sun."
Obviously, these are dangerous (even fatal) levels for anybody inside a vehicle, particularly children. Still, every summer, some people—for whatever reason—leave their children in hot cars.
If you happen across a child in a hot car, you need to take action as time is of the essence. This is not the time to be concerned about interfering with someone else's "business." This is not "business." This a child's life.
What To Do
There are Good Samaritan laws that provide a legal umbrella for those who provide assistance in matters of emergency. So, here is what you should do if you find yourself in this situation.
- Look around to see if the child's parent or guardian is nearby. It might just be that the caregiver has stepped out of the vehicle to get a cart to put the child in or something of that nature.
- Don't wait more than a few minutes if you haven't located the responsible adult.
- If the child appears to be in distress or, worse, is unresponsive, call 911 immediately.
- Remove the child from the car.
- Spray cool water on the child. Do not go straight for ice.
In instances where the child is responsive:
- Stay with him or her until help arrives.
- In the meantime, try to find someone to continue looking for the driver and/or have the driver paged over the P.A. system.
Make no mistake about it; heatstroke is dangerous. Those experiencing heatstroke require specific medical attention. Recognizing the warning signs of heatstroke can help dictate which measures need to be taken to minimize any ill-effects.
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- Confusion or unusual behavior;
- No sweating;
- Red, hot, and abnormally moist or dry skin;
- Strong, rapid pulse or—incontrast—slow, weak pulse.
When it comes to emergency situations involving children, we should all feel compelled to help. As the mercury rises, children being left in hot cars is one thing about which we should always remain alert.