Not everyone has a garage to park their vehicle, meaning it’s left out in the sun all year round. In the spring, summer and early fall months, it can heat up quickly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, temperatures inside a parked car can soar nearly 20 degrees higher within the first 10 minutes, and be deadly to unattended children. If left in the sun for an hour, interior temperatures can reach a scorching 138 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It’s therefore critical to never leave children alone inside your vehicle, and ensure it’s cooled down before strapping them in. 

Metal seat belt buckles, plastic latches on car seats, and door handles can burn a child’s skin, potentially causing serious injuries. First-degree burns are superficial wounds that affect the first layer of skin. Although most don’t demand medical care, some are large and painful enough to require a plastic surgeon. Second-degree burns cause severe skin damage, resulting in the death of skin cells. These require immediate medical treatment and typically form blisters. 

A case study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics & Child Care documented a car seat burn sustained by an 11-month-old infant. The child was accidentally exposed to a hot car seat for approximately five hours, resulting in a significant contact burn injury on its left thigh. 

“The dimensions of the injury seemed to resemble those of the lateral part of the car seat,” reads the study. “The pattern of the burn exactly matched the exposed, noncovered plastic car seat part and was verified by placing the infant into the car seat. There were no blisters or discharge from the wound. The majority of the skin had peeled off exposing healthy granulation tissue.”

So, how do you prevent seat belt and car seat burns from occurring? Whether you buckle your child in or they do it themselves, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

It’s therefore critical to never leave children alone inside your vehicle, and ensure it’s cooled down before strapping them in. 

  • Tuck the metal seat belt ends into the seats or seat backs, so they’re hidden from sunlight. 
  • Remove your car seat when not using it. Keep it inside your home. 
  • Cover the car seat with a towel or blanket when not in use. 
  • Before strapping your child in, check the temperature against your skin. 

Sometimes you can do everything possible to prevent these injuries, but they accidentally occur. Maybe the seatbelt or car seat doesn’t feel as hot to you as it would a child. You can take a long car ride on an open road and they can heat up. Some things just happen. You should know what to do. 

If your child is in constant pain, bring them to the emergency room immediately. Dr. Anthony Buglino is credentialed at multiple hospitals. If you would like your treatment streamlined, call Dr. Buglino on your way. He can notify the hospital and fast-track the entire process. Plus, it’s better to have a plastic surgeon treat the injury to ensure minimal scarring. A plastic surgeon has more expertise in this department than an emergency room physician working on various injuries and conditions. 

If the burn is minor, you can visit Dr. Buglino’s Woodbury, NY office. Buglino Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery’s laceration repair division BooBoosRX specializes in pediatric injuries. Dr. Buglino understands kids need extra-special care when they’re in pain. While treating the burn, he allows kids to watch shows or play games on an iPad, distracting them from the process. After treatment, Dr. Buglino schedules follow-up visits to ensure the site is healing properly. 

Call Dr. Anthony Buglino at (516) 864-0700 for immediate care.

Topics: Laceration Repair