The Dangers of Leaving Your Child in a Hot California Car Rental

When it comes to warm weather, we Californians know a think or two about heat. Summer sunshine is what we do best, after all. That being said, there are plenty of dangers that come hand-in-hand with a West Coast summer. Sunburns, heatstroke, water shortages – it’s not all about bikinis and surfboards unfortunately. The summer heat causes preventable injuries and even deaths every summer. According to the organization Kids & Cars, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year. The worst part? Many of these deaths are completely accidental.

It can happen to anyone, even to our California car rental customers. Children are accidentally left unattended in a hot car – sometimes because the driver forgot they were there – or when a child accidentally locks themselves in a car without an adult knowing. When it comes to safety during your upcoming California car rental vacation, ensure that your little ones are safely out of harms way and protected from the elements.

Never Leave Your Child in a Hot California Car Rental

This is a hard and fast rule; one that parents need to abide by at all time. Granted, taking your child in and out of a cumbersome car seat can be frustrating, especially for a quick California car rental stop. But the stakes are high and your child’s life is worth the extra effort. Simply put, a child is never safe alone in a hot car, even if the windows are rolled down. This is because California car rentals retain heat a lot like greenhouses do, trapping the hot air inside. As such, it doesn’t take long for the heat to become unbearable, even fatal, inside your rental.

How Quickly Can Heat Impact a Child?

It’s important for parents to understand just how quickly a child can become distressed inside a hot car. On a day that is just 72 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, the temperature inside of a California car rental can increase by 30 or 40 degrees in as little as an hour. What’s more, 70 percent of this heat increase takes place in the first half hour.

This kind of rapid heat increase can have a dangerous impact on the body, especially the body of a child. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature passes 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat overwhelms the brain’s ability to control temperature, which results in symptoms such as dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion and sluggishness. Loss of consciousness will eventually happen which could cause death as cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down. This impact is magnified for children as their thermoregulatory systems are not as efficient as an adult’s. This can cause their body temperatures to warm at a rate that’s 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.

It’s Against the Law

California car rental travelers should note that it’s illegal to leave a child unsupervised inside of a motor vehicle. The law reads as follows:

CALIFORNIA
CAL. VEH. CODE §15620 (2013). Leaving a child unsupervised inside a motor vehicle; violations and punishment.

a)     A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:

  1. Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety.
  2. When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both.

b)    A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100), except that the court may reduce or waive the fine if the defendant establishes to the satisfaction of the court that he or she is economically disadvantaged and the court, instead, refers the defendant to a community education program that includes education on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles, and provides certification of completion of that program. Upon completion of that program, the defendant shall provide that certification to the court. The court may, at its discretion, require any defendant described in
this section to attend an education program on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles.

c)     Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and Section 192 of the Penal Code, or Section 273a of that code, or any other provision of law.

d)    (1) Subdivision (b) and Section 40000.1 do not apply if an unattended child is injured or medical services are rendered on that child because of a violation described in subdivision (a).
(2) Nothing in this subdivision precludes prosecution under any other provision of law.

Keep your child safe inside your California car rental follow and never leave them alone inside your vehicle, even for a minute.