New Orleans EMS Reminds Residents Of The Dangers Of Children In Hot Cars After "Near Miss"


NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans EMS is reminding residents that children should never be left unattended in vehicles after responding to a call for service in which a small child was unintentionally locked in a hot car. 

On Thursday, EMS was called to a parking lot in the Eighth District for a 2-year-old child who had accidentally been locked inside of a relative’s vehicle. Prior to EMS arrival, NOPD Eighth District officers had been flagged down to assist and had extricated the child from the vehicle by breaking a window. Though the child had been in the vehicle for less than 10 minutes, they were in distress due to the high temperatures inside the car.

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Since 1998, an average of 37 children have died annually due to being left in a hot car. Interior temperatures can reach deadly levels in less than an hour if a car is left in the sun on a hot day, and in less than two hours if left in the shade. When a small child’s body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, irreversible damage begins. Death can occur after a seemingly short time when a child is left in a vehicle.

“Summertime is officially here, and temperatures will continue to be high,” said Dr. Emily Nichols, Director and Medical Director for New Orleans EMS. “It is imperative that caregivers make sure that children are never left unattended in a vehicle, and that cars are locked when not in use to prevent children from using a vehicle as a play toy.”

Leaving a child in a hot car is every parent’s worst nightmare — so how does it happen?  “Contributing factors that are seen regularly in hot car deaths include caregiver fatigue, stress, distractions and changes in routine. Often times a small alteration in a parent’s daily routine occurs before a hot car death,” said Dr. Nichols. 

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Prevention Tips 

  • Never leave a child unattended in a car, even if the engine is running or the windows are cracked
  • Teach children that vehicles are not play toys
  • Lock cars when not in use to prevent children from entering
  • Consider investing in devices or technology that alert drivers when a child has been left in a car– baby product manufacturers offer multiple options to assist with this
  • Louisiana ranks worst in the nation in per capita hot car deaths, and there have already been six such deaths recorded across the nation so far in 2018. These deaths are entirely preventable, and all caregivers need to take steps to ensure that they never experience this type of tragedy.

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