A shoe may seem like a simple item, but according to ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital’s injury prevention specialist Gina Veres, it may be the key to saving your baby’s life.
On average, about 37 children in the United States die each year due to heat stroke from hot cars. And most of the time, a child was left in the car accidentally. “Maybe mom drops off child to daycare; dad picks up. Things change. Now dad has to drop off out of the blue,” explained Veres. “When you get in your car, sometimes you’re on autopilot.”
It may seem like an impossible thing to do, but a break from routine and a little one quietly napping in the backseat can be a very dangerous combination.
Veres’ trick: Put a reminder in the backseat, such as your left shoe. “You don’t need it when you’re driving, right? But when you get to your destination you do,” she said.
Other options could be your phone, your briefcase or your purse. Parents can also set a calendar reminder on their phone or computer to drop off their child at daycare on days they don’t typically do it. Your child’s daycare provider may be willing to help, too. “Make an arrangement with that child care facility that if your child does not show up at a specific time, they’re going to call you,” Veres recommended.
“It only takes 10 minutes for that vehicle to heat up 20 degrees more and their little bodies heat up three to five times faster than our adult-sized bodies.”
Hot days are especially dangerous, but even cooler days can cause heat stroke in children. “We’ve had children who have died in a vehicle when the outside temperature was 60 degrees,” explained Veres. “It only takes 10 minutes for that vehicle to heat up 20 degrees more and their little bodies heat up three to five times faster than our adult-sized bodies. They can’t regulate their temperature.”
Rescuing a Trapped Child
Parents play a large role in keeping this number down, but everyone should be aware of the risk. If you see a child trapped in a hot vehicle, Veres advises to call 9-1-1 first. “See what the operator tells you to do. They’re going to talk you through it, making sure that the child is responsive at least and that the coloring of skin hasn’t changed.”
In Ohio, the Good Samaritan law creates immunity from civil liability for people who attempt to intervene for a child or pet locked in a hot car. In other words, the parents or owners of the car can’t sue if the bystander follows the proper, lawful procedure. In Michigan, there is no such law, so you’ll definitely want to call 9-1-1 first.
So far this year, 18 children have already died in hot cars across the United States. It may seem odd to drive with just one shoe, but on days where the temperature is high or a routine is broken, it may end up saving a very important life.