Protecting Our Children in the Summer Heat: A Vital Reminder for Parents and Caregivers

This story was featured in the Salina311 Newspaper. Subscribe To The Paper

As the scorching summer heat blankets Kansas, it is essential not to overlook the paramount importance of safeguarding our little ones during these sweltering months. Summertime in Kansas is a time for family outings, park visits, swimming, and cherished outdoor play. Watching your children revel in the joys of youth is a delightful experience that makes this season even more special.

Amidst all the fun and excitement, it's important to remain vigilant about protecting your children from potential dangers. While you diligently ensure they wear life jackets and sunscreen, buckle up in vehicles, and adopt other safety habits, there is one aspect that is often overlooked, yet it can quickly turn fatal in the summer heat - leaving a child unattended in a hot vehicle.

Startling statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Advisory reveal that over the past 25 years, more than 950 children have tragically lost their lives due to heatstroke after being left or trapped in hot cars. That amounts to an average of 40 innocent lives lost each year, with a staggering 54% of these victims aged two years or younger. The interior of a vehicle can heat up by 20 degrees in just 20 minutes, becoming a severe threat to any child left inside.

Some crucial facts to consider: a child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can begin when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees, with death occurring at 107 degrees. The years 2018 and 2019 marked a record high in hot car deaths, claiming 53 young lives annually, the highest toll in at least 25 years, according to However, it is vital to remember that every single hot car death is preventable.

Whether you are a parent or caregiver, never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any duration, as cracking the windows or parking in the shade hardly alleviates the interior temperature. Developing the habit of thoroughly checking the entire vehicle, especially the back seat, before locking the doors and walking away can save lives.

It is crucial to communicate with childcare providers and request that they promptly call if your child does not arrive as expected. Moreover, placing a personal item, like a purse or briefcase, in the back seat serves as a reminder to look before you lock, while a note or a stuffed animal on the passenger's seat can also prevent unintentional oversights.

Additionally, store car keys out of a child's reach and educate children that vehicles are not play areas, to avoid any accidental entrapment. These preventive measures are not only the responsibility of parents and caregivers but also every member of the community.

Locking car doors year-round prevents children from accessing unattended vehicles, but if you happen to come across a child alone in a locked car, especially during the scorching summer days, act swiftly by calling 911 and removing the child from the vehicle to cool them down as quickly as possible.

Sgt. Tonniges from the Salina Police Department emphasizes that no child should ever be left alone in a vehicle, regardless of the circumstances. Extreme heat poses an added risk, and even if a child may usually be capable of taking care of themselves, the hot weather becomes an unnecessary burden.

Remember, most hot vehicle deaths, especially younger children, occur due to changes in routine, such as a different caregiver being responsible for dropping the child off at school or daycare. Engaging with the child in the back seat and creating an active reminder of their presence can help prevent such tragedies. Older children, on the other hand, can easily become locked in a vehicle by simply playing outside and seeing the vehicle as a play area.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Salina311.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Salina311.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.