The return of students to the classroom means a change from the summer routine for most parents. With that change, comes the responsibility to remain vigilant when it comes to keeping our children safe.
Unfortunately, Texas is among the country’s leaders when it comes to hot-car deaths of children. It is very often a simple matter of someone forgetting that a child is in the backseat of a vehicle that leads to such tragedy. The inside of a car can get hot — even after only a few minutes — and a child can overheat quickly, leading to heat stroke. It can cause serious brain damage and death.
According to John Lennan with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), caregivers play the most important role in preventing hot-car deaths. He suggests the following:
Be Aware and Stay Alert
- When you get out of the vehicle, make sure everyone in the car leaves the vehicle too, even if you’re only stopping for a minute. And always lock all doors.
- Communicate clearly with others. Don’t assume someone else is taking your child out of the car.
- Always check the backseat before you get out of the car. Parents and caregivers can forget they have the baby in the backseat, especially if the child is quiet or has fallen asleep.
- Create reminders such as putting your purse, phone or other important item in the backseat.
- Put the child’s diaper bag or teddy bear in the front seat with you.
- Talk out loud to your baby while you are in the car together.
- Have your babysitter or day care provider call you if your child isn’t dropped off that day, or make a habit of checking in with your child’s caregiver after you drop him/her off.
- Be calm, careful and conscious. Mistakes happen when people are tired or distracted. Do not zone out, and pay close attention to small changes in your daily routine.
Also important to note:
- Leaving the windows down or the air conditioning on is NOT enough to keep your child’s body at a safe temperature for very long.
- Your babysitter or child’s caregiver needs to know and follow these guidelines, too.
- If you see a child left alone in a hot car, call 911 immediately.
And while on the topic of child safety, adults should keep in mind that swimming activities typically do not end when school begins!
Our warm south Texas weather means that many children will continue to play in the pool or take a dip in the lake well into the beginning of the fall season.
The website www.watchkidsaroundwater.org includes a few important reminders:
- A responsible adult should always supervise children in or around water. Keep new swimmers and non-swimmers within arm’s reach.
- Make sure the adult knows CPR and has a phone to dial 9-1-1.
- Have floatation devices available to use in a rescue (ones that can reach and float).
- Drowning is quick and quiet. The adult should be undistracted at all times.
- Share rules with anyone who may watch your child.
Teach Water Survival Skills, Ensure a Child Can
- Return to the surface if they fall in over their head.
- Float or tread water.
- Turn in a circle in the water and look for an exit.
- Swim 25 yards (75 feet).
- Get out of the pool without using the ladder.
Stay Alert Inside the House
- Never leave small children alone near any container of water, including tubs, buckets, toilets or aquariums. Drain buckets and baths when done. A child can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.
- Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with locks.
- Never leave young children alone in or around the bath. Drownings can happen in even tiny amounts of water.
- Get what you need before filling the tub. If you need to leave the room, take the child with you.
- Make sure children cannot leave the house to get to pools or hot tubs.
Stay Alert Outside the House
- Never leave children alone in or around water (pools, kiddie pools, lakes, creeks, buckets, beaches, ponds or drainage ditches).
- Constantly watch children when swimming or playing near water. They need a certified lifeguard or responsible adult within reach.
- When pool is in use, completely remove pool covers and cleaning machines.
- Secure the area around the pool with a fence, self-closing gate and alarms.
- Find out if your child’s friends or neighbors have pools at their homes.
- Do not allow children to swim in any water after heavy rains or flooding.