Doha, 4 September 2021: The Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP) of the Hamad Trauma Center has issued a list of best practices to keep residents, especially their kids, in Qatar safer while in cars during the hot weather.
“We need to remind the public of the increased risk of heat stroke, even death, if children are left in hot cars –the temperature inside a parked car can be as much as 40°C hotter than it is outside. Even on a cool day, the temperature difference can be over 20°C hotter. This temperature difference can cause a rise in a child’s temperature within the first five minutes, significantly increasing the risk for high fever, dehydration, seizures, heat stroke, even death. Hot days bring dangers for all of the population, but for children the risks are much higher. A child’s temperature rises five times faster than an adult’s temperature, especially on hot days, increasing their risk for dehydration and heat stroke.” said Dr. Aisha Abeid, Assistant Director of the HIPP, the community outreach arm of the Hamad Trauma Center.
Dr. Abeid further explained that parked cars can get hot very fast. “Even when a car is parked in the shade, the temperature inside a car can rise to dangerous and even fatal levels very quickly. The younger the child, the greater sensitivity to heatstroke, and the faster they can become dehydrated. Deaths from heatstroke can happen even when cars are parked in the shade and winding the window down 5 cm or so has little effect on rising heat, also the color of the seats and interior has no effect on rising heat and large cars heat up just as fast as small cars. It is not safe at all to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any amount of time, even for a minute. If you have to leave your car for any reason, always take your child with you.” she said.
These risks are not confined to children only. ‘The elderly people or those with co-morbidities or chronic disease are as vulnerable as young children if they are left or wait for some time in hot cars said Dr. Abeid.
In some cases, children are left in cars because they are asleep or are forgotten by busy parents or drivers who are uninformed and don’t understand the risk for young kids.
HIPP shares the following basic recommendations to keep children safe from the extreme heat while in cars:
- It is not safe at all to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any amount of time, even for a minute.
- Be sure that all children with you are leaving the car too specially the younger ones.
- If you can’t find one of the children, always check the car in case a child is hiding inside.
- Make a reminder that your child is in the car with you. For example, you could put your child’s bag or lunch box on the front seat where you can see it.
- Leave something on the back seat next to your child. Choose an item that you’ll need at the end of the car trip, like your phone, wallet or bag.
- Always keep your car locked when you’re not in the car, especially in your garage at home, so your child doesn’t get in to play or hide inside.
- Never give your child car keys to play with and make sure to keep keys out of reach. This can help to prevent your child from accidentally locking himself in the car.
- Talk to your child about not playing with the buttons inside the car and activate the child lock so he/she cannot control the door locks.
The following tips can help keep your child comfortable and safe when you’re driving in hot conditions:
- Give your child plenty of water to drink during car trips.
- Dress your child in cool, comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- Check the temperature of car seats, harnesses and seat belts before your child gets into the car. Hot metal, plastic or leather can burn your child. If surfaces are hot, cover them with a damp cloth and then help your child into the car.
- Don’t loosen your child’s harness in summer – it must fit snugly whether he’s awake or asleep. A loose or twisted harness can put your child at risk of injury in a crash.
- Use shades on your car windows to protect your child from the sun if your windows aren’t tinted. Avoid putting a hood or bonnet over a capsule to protect a baby from the sun, because this reduces air circulation.
- Plan car travel for the cooler times of the day if you can. Cool your car as much as possible before you let your child get in.
In case your child develops any heat related illness symptoms like sweating, dehydration or confusion you should take him/her to a cooler area immediately to reduce body temperature and call 999 for proper guidance.