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6 Dangers in and Around Cars that can Kill or Harm your Children

Updated on July 9, 2014

The Six Dangers Summary

These are the five dangers we will be talking about in our article.

  1. A moving car is a danger both with or without a licensed driver.
  2. A hot car and a kid inside can have a lethal outcome.
  3. Windows can be fun to watch go up and down but they can cause injury.
  4. A properly worn seat-belt is safe and one not is dangerous.
  5. The trunk is a place for luggage and not a good place to play.
  6. The pickup bed is a bad place for kids especially when moving.

The article I dreaded to write but knew I had to.

This is a sensitive topic. I know that. Its always hard to talk about children and especially to give advice to anyone on how to raise or take care of children. But I felt strongly that something had to be written on this subject.

AND THE REASON WHY?

Well over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of news articles about children being left alone in hot cars and suffering and dying from it. So if I enlighten and help shed some light on the dangers that are around cars I will know perhaps that I made a difference.

Cars can start now with a push of a button as long as the key is near. Kids can learn this easily.
Cars can start now with a push of a button as long as the key is near. Kids can learn this easily.
Source
Drivers Backing Over Children Most Common Form of Non-Traffic Injury
Drivers Backing Over Children Most Common Form of Non-Traffic Injury | Source

So how do you prevent Number 1 on the list, cars rolling on their own and backing up properly...

DANGER: Putting a car in gear and it rolling.

Sometimes kids get into cars to play. They want to emulate their parents and drive a car. It is all cute in staged photos. But in real life a car can easily be put into neutral with a turn of the key. And if the car is on an incline it can roll and cause serious damage, bodily harm, and even death.

Here are some ideas on how to prevent this:

  • Always keep the car locked and the keys up and away from a child's reach.
  • If you leave the car unlocked never leave the keys in it.
  • If your car has a push to start button make sure your key is not left where a child can get at it.
  • Always engage the parking break.
  • See if you have a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI) and learn how it functions.

All vehicles manufactured with an automatic transmission with a Park position, built after September 1, 2010, must have BTSI so you may be safer with this option. One of the best things to do is to educate your children about how to be safe around cars.

DANGER: backing up a car around children.

Many children are hurt or killed when they are unattended and playing in a driveway or parking area. There are many things you can do yourself to make sure you dont injure a child when backing up. Some of them are:

  • Do a walk around every time you are going to back out of an area. This will allow you to see children playing and any left over items you may run over. Like bikes and toys.
  • Teach children to recognize when a car is started and to learn to move quickly away.
  • If children are playing or noticed make sure you know where they are at all times when backing up.
  • Roll down windows when backing up so you can hear if anything happens.
  • If you have a backup system that is good but dont rely on it solely still practice some of these other good tips.

Remember to teach kids about cars backing up and the dangers. Teach them to move away and stay in eye contact with the driver. And help them to understand not to leave toys, bicycles, and play vehicles in the driveway. These tips can help you be a safer parent or caregiver and can make all the difference in the world.

What to do if you see a kid in a car alone?

According to NHTSA.gov website if you see a kid locked in a car for more than five minutes you should try and take action.

  • If the child is not OK or non-responsive call 911.
  • If the child is OK try and locate the caregiver or parent by utilizing the place where you are at security personnel or PA system.
  • Hopefully you have someone with you who can wait at the car, or maybe you can get someone to help wait as you search for the parent.
  • If the child is non-responsive or in great distress try and get to them even if it means breaking a window.
  • If the child is in distress due to heat get them out of the car and cool them down by spraying cool water on them.

Remember states have "Good Samaritan" laws that protect people from lawsuits when they get involved in helping someone in an emergency.

Thanks to safecar.gov for these tips.

Number 2 on the list is to remember to never leave a kid unattended in a hot car.

There are times when I see kids in a car running or not running all by themselves. It seems like this happens a lot at the local grocery store. Even the best of parents can sometimes forget or maybe you feel like you can just run in real fast and get what you need and get back before anyone notices.

I know it is hard, especially if you are alone and the child is asleep or very sick. I think most of us have been there. I guess we just need to think a little more. Chances are if you do this you will probably have a concerned citizen at your car when you return to tell you what you are doing can cause harm. I even see this with pets, I would even say I see pets left in the car almost every-time I go to the store.

These are some facts about cars in the heat:

If you think you can crack some windows and that's all you need, then think again, this does little to help keep the car cool.

It is a relatively cool day and you think your kid will be fine in the car, but did you know that heatstroke can happen in as little as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. And the reason is...

A child's body temperature can rise fast, almost 5 times faster than an adults. And when a child's temperature reaches 107 degrees they can die.

A lot of people say I will be real quick, lickety split, and back in a flash. But a cars temperature can raise over 20 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes.

THE SOLUTION IS EASY...never leave a child alone in a car. NEVER. EVER.

  • Even if you are in a hot car dont keep children in there with you even if you have the windows down.
  • If you are changing a routine or you are dropping off kids and you normally dont have your spouse or someone else call to make sure you the children are not left in the car. This also goes for care givers who dont normally have or watch kids.
  • Always check before you lock the car. Check and re-check.

The ultimate consequence of leaving a child in a hot car is their death. But just by leaving them in there for a few minutes you risk them being injured and you could be charged with a felony, fined, or face jail time. So PLEASE know where the baby or child is at all times.


Power Windows and Convertible Tops can be dangers.
Power Windows and Convertible Tops can be dangers. | Source

Number 3 is windows and convertible tops can be dangerous if you dont watch fingers, arms, and heads.

This one is fairly simple. And I have to admit even as an adult I have caught my fingers in the windows a few times. And I even slammed the my fingers in the door once. There are a few tips I think may help.

  • Activate the child safety locks so kids cant play with the windows.
  • Keep the keys out of the reach of kids so they cant play with the windows, doors, and top when you are not around.
  • When closing windows, doors, and convertible tops make sure that all fingers, arms, and heads are out of the way.
  • A good way is to have the child fold their arms until everything is buttoned up.

Just take a few moments when activating these power devices. Remember injury can happen in a split second and the devices when under power dont stop quickly. So keep those limbs safe.

Number four is the seat belt, the most important safety device in the vehicle.

This is the best safety device in your car. When properly worn it can save lives. Improperly worn, or using it before the child is ready can be dangerous.

For a kid to use a seat belt they should be tall enough so that they are not sitting in a slouched positions. They should be able keep their entire back against the seat. Their knees should go over the seat and bend in a natural position. And finally their feet should touch the floor in a flat position.

Some other good tips are;

  • Let kids ride in the back seat where it is much safer.
  • Make sure the belt fits properly with the lap portion over the thighs and the shoulder portion over the shoulders and not the neck.
  • Don't manipulate the seat belt usage in any way including tucking it under the arm or using just one portion of it.

Remember every person in the vehicle needs a seat belt, booster seat, or baby seat. Its the law so like the video says to the right, click it or ticket.

If you child is missing and was seen playing around the car, check the trunk.
If you child is missing and was seen playing around the car, check the trunk.

Number 5 is to keep kids from playing in the trunk of the car.

Many kids suffer and die in the trunk of the car getting stuck after playing in it. It is heat breaking to know this happens when it can be prevented. Mainly they games played are ones where they hide in the trunk and get stuck.

So keep the trunk and car locked at all times. Keep the keys away from children.

If you expect your children of playing near the car and they are missing check the car inside and especially the trunk.

All cars after 2001 have a glow in the dark trunk release so it may be a good idea to show this to the kids when talking about trunk and car safety. If your car does not have one you can look at getting on installed.

Number 6 is to not let children ride in the pickup bed of a truck.

"A person riding in the cargo area of a truck is 26 times more likely to be ejected than a person riding in the cab. Compared with properly buckled cab occupants, the risk of death for those in the cargo area is eight times higher. According to information from the National Children’s Center for Rural Agricultural Health and Safety and the Fatality Analysis Recording System maintained by NHTSA, 63 child fatalities (ages 1 to 17) were associated with pickup truck cargo areas, on an annual average between 1994 and 2000." - NHTSA

I remember seeing a local story of a child riding in the back of a pickup truck and being thrown from it due to the driver taking a corner to fast. Kids are much safer in the cab of the truck then in the rear of the pickup bed.

Even if you have a camper shell on the back kids can still be injured if they are thrown into it or sometimes exhaust fumes can build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning due to a leaky exhaust system that goes into the bed of the truck.

So there are a lot of ways that kids can be injured in the bed of a truck most of the injuries occur when the vehicle rolls over and the child is ejected. Other injuries include when children were horsing around, sitting on the tailgate, or messing around on the truck bed rails.

SO the MORAL of this article is to KEEP your children safe by teaching kids about safety around cars, keeping an eye on your children when they are near any motorized vehicle, and always be aware of where they are.

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