BOISE – On average, a child dies every seven days somewhere in the U.S. from being left in a hot car.  While parents should always bring children with them into the store, even during a quick errand, to prevent the risk of serious injury or death, AAA encourages parents to teach their kids how to seek help if they have been accidentally left behind in a vehicle.

“To be clear, parents should never deliberately leave children unattended in a car, as that decision can have tragic consequences.  But if a child has been forgotten, they need to know that it’s okay to take action,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Teach them how to unbuckle their car seat if they’ve been left in a vehicle, how to honk the horn, how to turn on emergency flashers or hazard lights, and how to unlock the front doors.”

AAA says that a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than that of an adult, and that a vehicle’s internal temperature can increase by 20 degrees or more in as little as ten minutes, even if the vehicle has been parked in the shade and with the windows cracked.

“The best solution is always prevention, and we urge parents to look for children and pets before they lock and leave their car,” Conde said.  “Get in the habit of putting something important in the back seat, such as your phone, wallet, or purse.  That may help motivate you to turn around before you exit the vehicle, or at least quickly realize that something is wrong.”

Heat fatalities can occur when the outside temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or less.  Never allow children to play in or around a parked vehicle, including the trunk.