Heatwave and children left in cars: size, danger, advice … 3 things to know about this pest

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Every summer, in the middle of a heatwave, children are left alone in overheated vehicles. La Dépêche du Midi returns in detail to this phenomenon and gives advice on how to avoid tragedy.

It is a phenomenon that keeps repeating itself. With each heat wave, different facts tell of fate children left to themselves in overheated car interior. This Thursday, June 16, again, in Rethel (Ardennes), a mother left a four-month-old baby in a vehicle in the parking lot of a supermarket at 38 ° C: “The car was locked, with the keys inside,” explains the department’s fire department. and rescue service in the Ardennes. The windows of the vehicle had to be smashed to help the child, who eventually escaped unharmed.

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The size of the phenomenon, danger, practical advice … The Midi broadcast make the point.

A widespread phenomenon

In France, difficult to quantify the phenomenon. The Ministry of the Interior confirms at interrogation that it does not have data on this topic. To United Stateswhere these tragedies are also common, the statistics are more accurate: a study published two years ago by the Canadian Pediatric Society states that “37 children die of hyperthermia inside parked vehicles every year in the United States “. In this country, a child dies in hot weather every ten days from this phenomenon. In most cases, the child has been forgotten in the interior of the vehicle (55% of cases).

This type of behavior is so prevalent that in 2009 “forgotten baby syndrome” has been theorized by the scientific community, following the example of Françoise Petitot: “To tell the truth, we do not know very well whether this ‘syndrome’ is the child for whom such an accident has occurred, or the parent’s. invaded by his own worries, captured in his daily routine or struggling with an unconscious desire for abandonment ”, the researcher writes.

Exponential temperature in the cabin

In hot weather, the temperature rises very quickly in car interiors. If it is “only” 26 ° C outside, the mercury can rise up to 50 ° C inside the vehicle in just one hour. And contrary to many people’s beliefs, it does not slow down the phenomenon of letting a window stand a little tight.

Faced with this constant rise in temperature, children are extremely fragile. Their body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than that of an adult. In an overheated car, a child may suffer severely brain and kidney damage in just 15 minutes. When the body reaches a temperature of 40 ° C, the organs no longer function. At 41.6 ° C, death is almost inevitable for a child.

Common sense advice

That’s obviously it completely out of the question of leaving a child unattended in a careven for a short durationand regardless of the weather, but especially if the outdoor temperature is high. In 2021 in Tours, a couple received one six months probation and a fine of € 1,000 to leave their 3 and 5 year olds locked in their vehicle parked in the sun while running errands. Police officers alerted by passers-by had released them after two hours in the heat, they had luckily come out alive but in poor condition as stated Western France.

It is also advisable to constantly lock the doors of your vehicle once you have parked it, to prevent a child from entering the cabin in your absence and locking themselves in. Also, do not leave the keys inside the vehicle.

If you see a child alone in an overheated vehicle, the instruction is tocall for help immediately : the firefighters at 6pm or Samu at 3pm, the Interior Ministry said. “Get him out of the vehicle as soon as possible. You can smash a car window if the situation requires it and you think that the child left alone in the car shows signs of heat stroke “, the Interior page continues.” The law protects you “.

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