Temperatures are heating up with the start of summer only days away. The Tennessee Department of Human Services Child Care Licensing Team is increasing its focus on transportation. TDHS Child Care Licensing program evaluators will conduct additional unannounced visits to child care agencies approved to transport children. These visits are conducted during hot summer months to ensure agencies are following transportation licensing rules intended to prevent children from being left on a vehicle unattended.
Current transportation rules include requirements for providers to have in-house transportation policies, appropriate supervision, and responsibilities for loading, unloading and tracking each child, specialized staff qualifications and more. Child care agencies must be approved by TDHS to provide transportation. TDHS considers violations of transportation licensing rules to be serious due to the risk of harm it could potentially cause to children.
Aside from child care providers, TDHS strongly encourages parents and individuals responsible for transporting children to “Look Before You Lock,” and complete their own safety checks to keep children safe from heat related dangers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a child’s body temperature can heat up three to five times faster than an adult. Further, on an 80-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees.
“Appropriate supervision is the key to keeping children safe during summer months," said TDHS Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Services Cherrell Campbell-Street. "Make sure children are accounted for, hydrated and not overly exerted while in high temperatures.”
The A.C.T acronym can be used as a way to remember the risk of heatstroke and preventative measures:
Never leave an infant or child alone in a vehicle, even if a window is cracked or if you’re parked in the shade Look in the back seat every time you exit the car
Place an item such as your workbag or purse in the back seat next to the car seat, so that you’ll always check the back seat before you leave the car
Have the child care agency or school call you if your child doesn’t show up
If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely.
If a child is in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible and cool them off.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
For more tips on keeping children safe in and around vehicles visit: https://www.safercar.gov/parents/index.htm
Anyone witnessing a child care transportation violation or other child care violation is urged to call the Child Care Complaint Hotline at 1-800-462-8261. Those not adhering to licensing rules can face a range of penalties including: probation, civil penalties, suspension, license denial or revocation.
More information is available at www.tn.gov/humanservices or on kidcentraltn.com.