As the heat of summer reaches full blast, it is imperative that parents and childcare providers take extra precautions to guard children from heatstroke and other heat-related injuries and death. During the hot summer months, the inside of a vehicle can reach 125 degrees within minutes, with 80% of the increase in temperature occurring during the first 10 minutes. Because children’s bodies overheat three to five times faster than adults’ bodies, leaving a child in a hot car even for a matter of minutes can be deadly.
This was tragically illustrated last month when a five-year-old boy was found dead inside a daycare van in Arkansas. Police said that the boy was found dead, strapped in a booster seat, more than eight hours after being picked up by the daycare van as staff members prepared to load the van for children to go home. The heat index on the day the incident occurred was near 100 degrees.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services stated that all child care service providers in the state must follow certain safety requirements, including installing child safety alarm devices in vehicles used to transport more than seven passengers. The alarm systems are to be installed in such a way that the driver is required to walk to the back of the vehicle to reach a switch that deactivates the alarm. The agency reported that a monitor inspected the daycare van in question in February and found that the alarm system was in working order. Further, the daycare facility in question had also been rated “highly compliant” with state safety rules and regulations.
According to KidsandCars.org, a public safety awareness agency, there have been over 800 child heatstroke deaths involving vehicles in the United States since 1990. About 7% of those fatalities were the result of a childcare worker leaving a child in a vehicle. The agency says that protocol for childcare workers transporting children usually involves someone picking up the child, checking them into a facility and then taking that checklist to a manager, who also conducts an inspection to ensure all the kids are present.
Tips to Prevent Heatstroke Deaths
There are a few common-sense precautions every parent and childcare worker should follow that can be instrumental in preventing heatstroke deaths, including:
- “Look before you lock”: Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle
- Create a reminder to check the back seat
- Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-offs. If your child will not be attending daycare as scheduled, it is the your responsibility to call and inform the childcare provider. If your child does not show up as scheduled and you have not received a call from the parent, make sure that your childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child.
- Keep car keys and remote openers away from children
- If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area
- Keep vehicles locked at all times
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Contact an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney For a Free Consultation
If your family has suffered the death of a child from heatstroke due to negligence, you may be entitled to recover. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Atlanta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs.