Guest Column / Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

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How to avoid accidents involving overheated cars

You are probably just getting used to the increased intensity of the summer sun here in Southern California. On a day when the outside temperature is 86 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in the sun can quickly skyrocket up to 150 degrees, and research indicates that leaving the windows slightly cracked does little to lessen this danger.

While overheated cars can be uncomfortable for returning drivers and passengers, they can be fatal for infants, small children and pets left inside. It is easy for a stressed parent to forget that a child or pet is in the back seat while they run an errand, or for a young child to crawl into a car and be overcome by the heat before realizing their predicament.

To avoid accidents involving overheated cars, follow these tips from the Department of Transportation:

-Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, whether the windows are open or closed, whether the air conditioner is running or not.

-Teach your children that a car is not a place to play.

-Make a habit of looking in your vehicle, front and back, before locking the door and walking away.

-If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure everything went according to plan.

-Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.

-Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.

-If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Warning signs may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.