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Hot Car Safety Tips

Hot Car Safety Tips

Memorial day is just around the corner, so that means summer has arrived. With summer comes vacation plans, travel and road trips. This is officially the time when Americas get on the go. It’s also the time of year where the temperature begin to rise, so as we get ready to embark on another summer season, this is a good time to get some safety tips for a hot car.

The summer heat creates some unique complications. As the temperatures rise, so do risks to your family and pets — especially if your plan to be out-and-about in the family car.

If you live in a particular hot spot, or plan to travel to one, here’s everything you need to know about the risks of hot cars as well as some safety tips.

Remember, your car gets hot fast

You don’t have to scald your hand on a scorching door handle, or your leg on a hot leather seat to know that a parked cars gets hot. However, do you know how hot and how fast? It’s pretty darn fast. In fact, your car’s interior temperature can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Maybe you’re thinking you can crack the window, well that won’t work. Even a fully rolled down window will not slow the rate at which your car’s interior will warm up. It won’t even cool the interior.

Even in mild more temperate climates, sun exposure on a parked car will increase at a similar rate. So, this leads us to tip #1, never leave a child or a pet closed up in a parked car on a sunny day. Never!

Children and pets respond differently to heat

If you’re going for summer drive or road trip with your pet, remember, your dog doesn’t feel the heat like a human. A dog’s body is designed to conserve heat. In fact, a dog’s sweat glands are located on the nose and pads of their paws, this makes it impossible for them to adequately cool their body’s mass on hot days.

In fact, the only real cooling mechanism a dog has is to pant. This means that a dog trapped in a hot car will be panting, which results in it breathing in hot air rapidly. That behavior can quickly lead to brain and organ damage as a result of  heat stroke.

If you plan to leave your kid in a hot car, think again. A child has fewer sweat glans than an adult, so they don’t adapt to the heat as well. Moreover, a child’s body can heat three to five times more quickly than an adult’s. Leaving a child in a car is simply not safe, and you can quickly get their body temperature to an unsafe 107 degrees – and that’s lethal.

The danger of operating on autopilot

We’ve all had that time when we got home, but we simply don’t remember the drive – and you were the driver. This typically happens when we’re mentally distracted, sleepy, or simply stressed-out. A frequent mental state for parents. How does this happen? Well, when we get in this worn down, stressed or distracted state the brain can function on the area that stores habit formation. It’s something called procedural memory, when driving it functions like a form of autopilot.

But what does this have to do with hot car safety tips you may be asking?

When you’re stressed-out, sleep deprived or distracted, and functioning on procedural memory, you are far more forgetful and reactive. You’re not your normal proactive and sharp self. This can become lethal in hot weather. During the summer season, when your car is it’s hottest, functioning on procedural memory can quickly turn fatal as forgetful parents leave children in cars. In fact, on average 37 children die in hot cars every year.

Mitigation tools for a forgetful mind?

We all understand the hot car isn’t good place for your dog or child. We also know that parents can easily be distracted, tired and a hot-mess of stress, leading to bouts of near zombie-like procedural memory episodes. But you still have to drive places with your children, and you really like taking your dog places with you. All is not lost. There are useful tools to help you manage the risks of a hot summer day’s drive.

Here are a few easy safeguards anyone can employ to help make sure a simple summertime excursions doesn’t result in a tragic statistic:

  • Put something you’ll need in the back seat

    As a good parent, you are likely to put your child or dog in the back seat. But this can be an out-of-site-out-of-mind incident for the parent operating on procedural memory. To help mitigate against potential forgetfulness, place an object you’ll need when you reach your destination in the back with your child or dog — perhaps your wallet, purse, or cell phone. Even the most forgetful will need to check the back seat with this method.

    Rear-facing car seats aren’t the easiest thing to monitor, especially when the child is sleeping. If you’re driving with an infant, and you want to make sure you get baby before you exit the car for your destination, try using a stuffed animal as a placeholder. After you secure your baby, snug in the car seat, simply bring the stuffed animal up front with with you, place it in a strategic location so you have to see it. This will serve is a memory trigger to get baby from the back seat.

  • Store your keys out of reach of small, sticky fingers

    To many children the car is an extremely cool thing. If allowed, your child will most certainly jump inside the car and play race car driver. For this reason, you must keep car keys secure and in a location out of reach of children. You don’t want you child to get into the car without your knowledge. They can easily get trapped inside during a hot day.

  • Always be running the air conditioning

    You simply won’t be able to avoid going out on hot summer days. The world doesn’t stop turning when the temperature goes up. However, when running around with children or pets on hot days, your can manage your risk. On hot days consider using the drive-through services when going to the bank or pharmacy. If getting food, there are drive-thru options if fast-food is not an issue, or curb-side pick-up at most restaurants. When possible, think about running your errands or taking that drive at times that avoid the hottest part of the day. These hot car safety tips allow you to keep the air running the entire time.

The bottom line

You could also buddy up, if possible, so one adult is always available to watch pets and children in your car while the air conditioner runs.

Whether you are hyper-vigilant or operating on autopilot, when it comes to hot cars, second-guessing is not an option. Plan, prepare and always err on the side of caution. After all, there’s nothing cooler than being safe.

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