Car seats

July and August are typically the hottest months of the year in Iowa, with outside temperatures easily reaching into the upper 80s and even 90s. Add a bit of humidity to the day, and it can feel like closer to 100 degrees.

With increasing temperatures comes the increased risk of children being left in hot cars – something that can quickly cause heatstroke and death. At least 17 children across the country have died already this year from vehicular heatstroke, and more than half of them were forgotten by their caregiver.

Hot days bring dangers for everyone, but for children the dangers are magnified. A child’s temperature will rise five times faster than an adult’s temperature, especially on hot days, increasing their risk for dehydration and heat stroke. Vehicles are quick to absorb the heat, too, and a closed car can quickly feel like an oven: on a 90-degree day, the interior of a closed car will reach 109 degrees in just 10 minutes. After a half hour it can reach 124 degrees, and in an hour it’s 133 degrees.

For a very young child strapped in a car seat and unable to get out, the situation can quickly become deadly.

Safe Kids Worldwide offers eight tips for not forgetting a child in the car:

  • Place a child’s item on the front seat next to you. Let it serve as a reminder that a child is in the car.
  • Place a personal item, such as a purse or briefcase, in the back. You’ll see the child as you’re reaching for your things.
  • Center the car seat in the back seat if both the vehicle and the car seat allow for that placement. It’s easier to see the child in your rear-view mirror.
  • Set up a system with your child care provider. Ask them to call if your child doesn’t arrive as planned.
  • Discuss hot-car deaths, especially with grandparents and babysitters.
  • Always check the back seat.
  • If you see a child alone in a car, especially on hot days, call 911.
  • Be on alert if your routine changes. Your risk of leaving your child behind increases.

For more information, email keepingkidssafe@uiowa.edu or call 319-356-3543.