It’s been a summer of strange weather — oppressive heat, punctuated by sudden downpours, often in the same day.
Tuesday has seen overcast skies and cooler temperatures, but it’s still hot enough for a child or pet left in a parked car to die. And with thunderstorms expected Wednesday, driving can get tricky. Here’s a few reminders about kids and cars, and rain and cars, from our friends at AAA Mid-Atlantic:
Heatstroke and Children
Twenty-nine children have lost their lives in 2018 as a result of heatstroke. The second heatstroke death this year happened in Arizona, in March, at just 71 degrees. In fact, heatstroke can even occur in outdoor temperatures as low as 57 degrees! The best thing to do is make it a routine to look twice and check the back seat for children before you leave and lock the car.
- Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioner on.
- Always look in both the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.
- Create electronic reminders such as an alarm on your cell phone or put something in the backseat you need when exiting the car, such as a purse, briefcase, or cell phone, as well as reminders in the front seat such as a sticky note or a stuffed animal in the front seat.
- Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
- Always lock your vehicle doors and trunk, and keep the keys out of a child’s reach. If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.
If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:
- Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
- If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system. If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
- If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window.
Good Samaritans – Pennsylvania
Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Karen Boback introduced House Bill 1152, which would provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child. The bill was passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee last July and is currently awaiting further action.
The warning signs of heatstroke vary, but can include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; and dizziness, nausea, or confusion. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, quickly spray the child with cool water or with a garden hose— NEVER put a child in an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Find additional tips on keeping children safe at safekids.org.
Driving in the Rain
More rain is moving into the region Tuesday evening, likely bringing heavy downpours and flash flooding. Remember to use caution while driving, and to never drive through standing water.
- Slow down, increase following distance, brake early and drive with greater caution and alertness. Drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle when roads are wet so reduce speed and keep your eyes and mind on the road. Increase following distance with the vehicle in front of you and brake early, but not hard, to allow the time needed to slow the car down.
- Turn on headlights. When windshield wipers are in use, headlights must be turned on. It’s the law in Delaware and surrounding states for a reason – allows motorists to see and be seen during inclement weather.
- Use the central lanes. When driving during heavy rain, use center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where the water collects at curbside.
- Watch for hydroplaning. No car is immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces, including four-wheel drive vehicles. Even if brakes work under normal conditions that doesn’t mean they will react the same on slippery roads where tires roll with less traction. Also, turn off cruise control as it can cause hydroplaning.
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown! As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and potentially stall your engine. Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads. No matter how shallow the water may appear, it may be deeper than expected, and may be concealing downed power lines. Turn around; find another way to get to your destination.
Check out some additional wet weather driving tips here.
Very important tips. Thank you for posting these.