‘Deadly’: Leaving kids in cars during this heatwave could lead to tragedy

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – More than 1,000 babies and toddlers have died in hot cars in the U.S. since 1990, including 13 here in Utah — but there are simple steps you can take to prevent this tragedy.

According to an online obituary, six-month-old Wade Taylor of Santaquin died on August 13, 2019. A court document stated that he was already deceased when his mother brought him to Mountain View Hospital in Payson, where doctors measured his body temperature at over 109 degrees.

It’s the kind of tragedy officials at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital are warning about during this week’s heat wave.

“Especially where we have such high hot temperatures right now, even leaving a child for five or 10 minutes could be deadly,” Jessica Strong, Primary Children’s Hospital’s community health manager, told ABC4 News Monday. “A child’s body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s, so even leaving a child for a minute with the windows cracked, that car will heat up and that child will heat up very, very quickly.”

Studies show that even in 95-degree weather, a car’s interior can soar to a sweltering 140 degrees —and leaving a window partially open has a minimal effect. Typically, most hot car deaths occur when a sleeping child is simply forgotten.

“We know that stress, fatigue, a change of routine, all of those things kind of push our brain into auto-pilot,” Strong said. “And we know that this has been a year full of changes in routine, so we recommend you put a reminder in the backseat of your car whether that’s your phone, your purse, something that you know you’re going to need at your destination, something to remind you that child is back there.”

Strong says there are now high-tech car seats that will text your phone if buckles are left fastened, and Intermountain Healthcare offers free Baby Safety Snaps to attach to any car set.

“The safety snap’s a great, low-tech reminder that is bright yellow. It says ‘Baby In Car,'” Strong said. “You put it around your neck so if you don’t see it, when you walk into your destination, somebody will look at that and point it out and say ‘Hey, is there a baby in your car?'”

To read more safety tips and get a free Baby Safety Snap, click here.

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