Winter advisory – never leave a child in the car alone

stockphotopro_75874292ARC_no_titleLois Lee, MD, MPH works in Children’s Emergency Department Injury Prevention Program

You often hear about children being left in cars in the middle of the summer, but did you know that it can be equally dangerous during the winter months?

Many parents probably understand the temptation to leave their young child in the car for “just a second” to run a quick errand, especially if the child is sleeping. But no matter how quickly you think you will be back to your car, you should never leave a child in the car alone.

Recently, a mother left her two young children in an unheated car in 28 degree weather for 18 minutes while she had a tanning session in a salon. Thankfully the children were unharmed, but they could have suffered from cold related injuries.

Unfortunately, the same scenario occurs at other times of the year. It is particularly dangerous if a young child is left in a car on a hot day when they can develop dehydration or hyperthermia, which can even lead to death.

There are other perils related to leaving children in the car unsupervised as well.

  • They might be able to figure out how to start the car –  if the keys are left there.
  • They could injure themselves either in the car or outside of the car –  if they are able to get out.
  • The car could also get carjacked and the children kidnapped.

Some of these scenarios may sound far fetched, but they have all been reported in the news. So now matter how “quick” you will be, children should never be left alone in the car.

The dangers are real and it makes no sense to put your child at risk.

Read more of Lee’s injury prevention advice on winter sports safety.