By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
Day care centers, schools, summer camps, and other child care care providers should have protocols and procedures in place to prevent what is been termed Hot Car Deaths
otherwise known as death due to hyperthermia. Childcare providers including parents at times leave a child unattended in the vehicle. This is especially troubling when the car is turned off there is no air-conditioning on the temperatures outside our 70° or higher.
Before addressing the issues involving Hot Car Deaths or hyperthermia, it should also be pointed out that there are dangers in leaving a small child unattended vehicle that is turned on with the air-conditioning running. There are number of other injuries that can take place when a child is unattended in a vehicle including but not limited to strangulation by a seatbelt, choking on small object small object left in the car, abduction, wandering away from the vehicle, and other dangers involved with leaving the child unattended.
Regarding Hot Car Death and hyperthermia, this tragic phenomena that is been taking place in a number of communities this summer and other times of the year. Day care centers, schools, summer camps, and other child care providers should have a written procedure in place for the loading and unloading the children regarding transportation. The simple roll, clip board, paper, and pen can help prevent most tragic these tragic incidents from taking place. Yes, we have technology available to us these days in the form smart phones, tablets, computers, GPS devices and other items. While technology is great and can also be used as a tool the supervision and roll call of children, all that is needed is some common sense, consistencny, and due diligence on the part of the child care providers.
Here is a simple policy and proceedure that can be incorporated and followed by every school, day care center, and summer camp regardless of the size of the facility, the number of children enrolled, or the budget of the facility.
1. Creat a list of children being transported during the day.
2. When a child enters the bus, make a note on the list by a checkmark or other designation. Do the same when a child departs the bus.
3. Before departing from a given location, complete a roll call and head count.
4. Repeat the above steps as needed if there are multiple stops.
5. For the last stop, take a roll call before the children depart the bus. Take another roll call when they get off the bus and yet another roll call at the destination.
6. When it is believed that all children have departed the bus, the bus driver should do a physical and visual sweep of the van and bus. That mean that the bus driver should physically search the bus and check every seat, under the seat, and all other areas where a child may be left behind. This should be done twice. The completion of the physical visual sweep should be documented on the roll call list or document.
7. If another attendant or child care worker is available, this child care workers should also perform a physical and visual sweep of the bus. The completion of the physical visual sweep should be documented on the roll call list or document.
Of course, the above procedure is just one example of many such procedures that can be utilized for the safety and protection of our children. It should also be noted that parents and other relatives, at times, leave a child unattended in a vehicle. While it may seem to be overboard to have formal procedure in place for a parent or family member, there should be some kind of reminder to make sure that all children are removed from the vehicle especially during hot summer months and freezing winter months. Some parent put a shoe in the back seat as a reminder. Others put a purse or wallet in the back seat. It may also be helpful to have a sign or sticker posted as a reminder. Some even put a reminder on a key chain. Whatever system or reminders are used – it is the best interest of the child that should be the focus of parents and child care providers alike.
If you have a child enrolled in a day care center, summer camp, or school, ask the childc are provider for a copy of the written policies and procedures for the facility in general and specifically the policy and procedures for transportation, field trips, roll calls, and attendance. It is also helpful to talk to the child care providers to discuss these and other safety matters as well. If the child is been injured while in the care of a day care center, school, summer camp, or other childcare provider, it is often helpful to discuss the incident and resulting injuries with a Child Injury Lawyer.
The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Automobile Accidents, Medical Bills and Insurance, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.