Be On The Safe Side: Field Trip and Transportation Safety
All child care facilities must practice safe travel during routine transportation, as well as on/during field trips. Transporting children in child care is a high-risk activity. Child care operators, staff members, and parents should be aware that transporting children requires careful planning and protective measures to ensure the safety of all children and staff. Careful planning also reduces liability for child care operators and their programs.
Before transporting any child, providers should carefully review all child care rules and laws regarding the transportation of children, and train any staff participating in transportation on these rules. Remember these critically important guidelines:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Do a physical check of the entire vehicle after all of the children have exited, to be absolutely certain that no child has fallen asleep or has been left behind.
- Visually supervise all children at all times.
- Each staff member should have an accurate, clearly readable attendance roster.
- Take attendance at regular intervals, including at each transition point, checking children by both name and face.
For North Carolina occupant restraint laws, including child passenger safety laws, refer to the North Carolina Child Passenger Safety Resource Center.
Another great resource is Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization "dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the number one killer of kids in the United States." The website, www.safekids.org, provides valuable information about safety in and around cars.
KidsandCars.org is committed to "preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles." This non-profit organization provides education and information regarding concerns, like injuries from power windows, trunk entrapment, vehicles accidentally set into motion by children, visual blockage of children while backing up or driving forward, and children left unattended in vehicles (resulting in heat stroke and sometimes death).
While transportation services are provided year-round by many child care facilities, it becomes even more vital to ensure children are delivered safely to their destination during the hot summer months. Safe travel includes checking vehicles to ensure all children have exited the vehicle. Failure to check on every rider can have tragic results.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, heatstroke is the number one vehicle-related killer of children, outside of car crashes. In fact, last year alone, a record 52 children died from heatstroke. Many of these instances were a result of children left in vehicles unattended. Such incidents are 100% preventable when safe transportation guidelines are followed.
As explained by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke begins when the body's core temperature rises to approximately 104 degrees; a core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal. A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's, and when a child is left in a hot car, his/her temperature can rise to deadly levels in minutes. Did you know that in just 10 minutes a car can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly?
To test your knowledge of child heatstroke prevention in cars, you can take this short quiz offered by the NHTSA. This organization launched the "Where's Baby? Look Before you Lock" campaign to inform everyone about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke. For more information regarding heatstroke prevention, visit the following:
Please, when you are transporting children take an extra moment to double check the vehicle to ensure all children have exited. A few extra minutes could save a child's life!