Temperatures are getting warmer in the Carolina’s and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is sending an alert to parents and caregivers that hot weather could mean serious risks for infants and young children who are left inside vehicles.
The NHTSA is urging caregivers to “Look Before You Lock” to ensure that a baby or young child is not left inside of the back seat of a car. Unfortunately, death or permanent brain damage can happen very quickly in circumstances where children are left inside vehicles. Caregivers including daycares and school bus drivers could be held legally responsible in situations where a child is left inside of a vehicle and is harmed. An experienced child injury lawyer in Asheville can represent victims and families after a tragedy.
Children Can Suffer Injury in Hot Cars
According to NHTSA data, there were at least 44 children killed in 2013 after being left inside of unattended cars. An unknown number of other children suffered moderate to severe injuries. This is a higher number of fatalities than average. Since 1998, an average of 38 children have died each year after being left in hot cars.
Thus far in 2014, although the warm weather has just started in most parts of the country, there had already been at least two deaths by the start of May. This suggests a “disturbing trend,” of more parents and caregivers potentially putting children at risk by leaving them inside of vehicles.
In some cases, a child is accidentally left inside of the car. For example, a caregiver may not see a child in the back of a bus when he lets the other kids off. In other circumstances, a child is intentionally left in a vehicle because the care provider believes it will be safe to do so for a “brief” time.
The reality, however, is that it does not take very long for a child to be permanently injured as a result of being left inside a car. When the temperatures are in the low 80’s outside, it takes just 10 minutes for the temperature inside of a vehicle to reach a deadly level. This is true even in circumstances where the window of the car has been rolled down two inches to allow air to come in.
Young children are at risk not only because cars get hot so quickly but also because their bodies are not as well-equipped to regulate heat. Children will get overheated more quickly than adults do– their bodies can get hot between three and five times faster — and kids under the age of four are at the greatest risk of getting sick or dying because of heat-related illness. If their bodies reach 107 degrees, they die.
Despite the risks, up to 14 percent of parents admit to leaving a child alone inside a vehicle. For parents of kids aged 3 and under, the percent of parents leaving their kids in cars increases to 23 percent.
Children should never be left alone inside of a car, van or bus. Parents and caregivers should make a habit of looking in both the front and the back of the car before locking it up to ensure that they don’t accidentally make a mistake and leave a child inside.
Call South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
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