Cars can be one of the most dangerous places to be in the summer. Unfortunately, injury and death have resulted from carelessness in this crucial area of summertime safety. Play it safe this summer. Here are seven safety tips to help.
1. Even “A Minute” Is Too Long
Tragedies have occurred when children or babies were left in a closed car “for just a minute.” But it only takes a minute or two for temperatures in a closed car to rise to lethal levels. Cracking windows is not enough, either – even with windows cracked, a car left in the sun will become deathly hot within a few minutes.
2. Be Aware – Look and Communicate
Many times, children and babies are left in a hot car not because the parent thought it would be safe “for a minute,” but because the parent(s) was careless and/or thoughtless. It’s easy in this day and age of distractions and super-busy lifestyles to think you dropped the baby or child off somewhere when he or she is actually still in the car.
So before you get out of your car in the summer, carefully look in every seat and under every seat (some kids have been known to unbuckle themselves from their car seats and sneak into the foot well). It’s only too easy to think a hiding child is a child who was already dropped off, or just didn’t come along. Make sure all infant seats are empty before you step away from the car.
And one more point on this issue of awareness – communicate! There have been incidents where children were left in a hot car because one parent thought the other parent had gotten the child out. When you get in your house or whatever destination, take a head count immediately.
3. Pets Are Vulnerable Too
Don’t take pets on errands in the summer unless everywhere you stop allows a pet inside. In fact, it’s probably better not to take pets on errands at all because the temptation can be too great to “just run into the store for a minute” because there’s a great sale or because you want to save gas by getting as many errands done on one trip as possible. Leave pets at home in an air-conditioned space when you run errands.
4. Park in the Shade
It’s amazing the difference a little shade can make in preventing a car from overheating. Take the sun’s slant and angle into consideration when you park – in the morning, the shadows will be facing the opposite way as in the evening. So if you’re going to be parking outdoors from noon to 5 pm, for example, choose a spot that lies to the east of any trees or other shade-making objects.
5. Provide Your Own Shade
Window tinting helps a lot in keeping a car’s interior cooler. If you don’t want to spring for a professional job, you can get temporary stick-on shades that can be peeled off when summer’s over.
6. Open Windows
While opening windows does not make a car a safe environment on a hot day, it can help keep the heat down a few degrees so it isn’t so much like a furnace when you get in.
7. Cold Water
In the summer, before you leave the house to drive anywhere, it’s a good idea to pack an insulated cooler bag with cold water and an ice block.
It’s not hard to take a few precautions. Just being aware can make all the difference.