Why should not a child be left alone in a car?
Changing routines and habits such as the end of school or the stress that parents face can cause tragedies. In fact, some parents leave their children alone inside a car to get off on an errand or because they think they will not be away for long. However, with the arrival of summer temperatures begin to rise and the risk of children’s deaths due to heat stroke increases.
Reyes Mazas, member of the Spanish Society of Outpatient Pediatrics and Primary Care (Sepeap) and pediatrician in Santander, states that June, July and August are three of the four months with the highest rate of pediatric accidents in Spain. «In most cases, it’s about children between 1 and 5 years old, tied in the safety seat of the back seat of the car,» he says. Also, the mechanisms responsible for regulating body temperature in children under five years are not as effective as in adults, since children tend to accumulate more heat, their bodies contain more water and have less autonomy to drink.
In addition, the vehicles heat up quickly, within the first 15 to 30 minutes in the sun. In this way, a child inside a car parked in the sun in summer and without ventilation can reach 42-43 degrees of body temperature and die within 30 to 60 minutes. They can also suffer rapid breathing, increased heart rate, fever, very hot skin, intense thirst, headache, irritability, vomiting, decay and decreased level of consciousness, even with seizures. Therefore, «children have a greater risk of developing heat stroke in a short period of time and can cause death,» says the expert.
How to avoid these serious consequences?
This habit may seem totally harmless but it is too dangerous. From Faros, the health portal for families of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, they say that children should not be left alone in the car without attention, even if they are playing. Also, before leaving home, you should check the car and lock the doors, keeping the keys out of the reach of children. On the other hand, when children travel in the back of the car or even in a chair that looks back, you can use some notice to remember that they are behind like a teddy bear.
Similarly, «if they have left a child in a car, the authorities should be notified and if the child is calm, they should try to take it out, refresh it and call the emergency number,» they stress.
Therefore, Mazas points out the action plan that should be followed if we find ourselves in this situation:
- Try to open the car while maintaining the safety of the child.
- Before moving it to a hospital center it is essential to cool the body, putting the child in the shade or in a cooler area, submerging it in warm water or applying wet cloths or wipes on the head and the rest of the body.
- Elevate the child’s head and if conscious, offer fluids, preferably with salts in small amounts frequently.