Although the official start of summer is still weeks away, Kentucky has already been experiencing high temperatures. Temperatures reached the mid- to high-80s Tuesday and are expected to hover in upper-70s and 80s all week.
With that comes that annual reminder that leaving children and pets in cars is dangerous. It's a warning that comes every summer, but one that still falls short for many: extreme heat can be dangerous and even fatal. That is why it's necessary to take precautions to prevent heat-related accidents, injuries and deaths.
The dangers of extreme are no more prevalent than when it comes to hot vehicles.
Already this year, nine children have died from heatstroke caused by being trapped in hot cars. Last year, 52 deaths were reported, a record high.
On average, 38 children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles every year.
These instances have increased drastically over the past 25 to 30 years, with just five deaths reported each year in 1990 and 1991 and four in 1992.
According to NoHeatStroke.org, 800 children have died in hot cars over the last 20 years.
While some of these instances are accidents and others because of carelessness or neglect, all should serve as stark reminders of the need for caution.
"Far too many children have been inadvertently left in vehicles or have gotten into a vehicle on their own," according to Kids In Cars, a vehicle safety advocacy group. "Vehicular heatstroke tragedies change the lives of parents, families, and communities forever." Many of those stories are shared at kidsandcars.org, along with tips to prevent these tragedies.
Even with the windows cracked, the inside of a vehicle can reach 125 degrees in minutes, with 80 percent of the increase in heat occurring in the first 10 minutes. Cracking a window does not slow down the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature.
A child's body overheats three to five times faster an adult's.
Always look before you lock your vehicle.
Create a routine and leave notes or other reminders at the front of the vehicle to check the backseat.
Implement a policy with babysitters or day care providers that you will notify them if your child will not be attending. If you have not notified them of an absence and your child has not arrived at the expected time, they should call.
Be especially cautious during busy times, schedule changes, very stressful times and others instances when you may be more likely to forget. This is when accidents can be most prevalent.
When cars are not being used, make sure they are locked and cannot be accessed by young children.
Never let children play in cars.
Never leave a child alone around or in a car, even for a minute.
Always call law officials and attempt to offer aid to children, elderly or pets who are locked in hot cars.
Share these tips and others with other parents, child care providers, caretakers, teachers, relatives and friends.
The more knowledgeable people are about the dangers of hot cars, the more lives can be saved.