Far too many times, we read about child fatalities due to being trapped in hot vehicles. Most of the news involves parents or other caregivers forgetting children in their vehicles, only to return to a tragic — and preventable — scene.

It’s not just kids being left in vehicles by their caregivers. We all know that youngsters are natural explorers and like to pretend. A vehicle provides a wealth of possibilities for fertile minds, but self-locking doors and trunk lids accidentally closed can quickly turn playtime into a nightmare.

Here are some startling facts from Kids and Cars (www.kidsandcars.org):

– The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.

– Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process OR decrease the maximum temperature

– 80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes

– A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.

– Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not.

– Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats and become quiet, unobtrusive little passengers.

Now for some safety tips:

– Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.

– Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.

– Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts.

– Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.

– If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.

– If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.

There is no question that a child succumbing when left in a hot vehicle is tragic. There is also no question such a tragedy can be prevented. Be safe and enjoy your summer!