High summer temperatures come with a dangerous and potentially deadly situation for many of our children – from rising heatstroke deaths in hot motor vehicles. In fact, such deaths are the leading cause of non-crash related fatalities for children 14 and younger.
Heatstroke Deaths Can be Prevented
Losing a child, any child, at any age is one of life’s greatest tragedies…for the parents, family, friends, and loved ones…for everyone involved. It’s especially hard when the death of a child was preventable. But rising summer temperatures also come with a dangerous and potentially deadly situation for many of our children – from rising heatstroke deaths in hot motor vehicles.
A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees; death can follow in a child when that temperature reaches 107 degrees.
A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
Even with outdoor temperatures only in the 60s, the inside of a car can heat up to well above 110 degrees in just a matter of minutes. But with summer upon us, and daytime temps in many areas across the country shooting into the 90s or higher, vehicles will heat up even faster. That makes it very important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars — especially hot cars — because tragedies can and do happen.
In fact, from 1998-2014, 636 children across the nation died due to heatstroke from being left in a vehicle. Such deaths are the leading cause of non-crash related fatalities for children 14 and younger. Just as tragic, over half (53 percent) of the child heatstroke deaths were because the child was forgotten in the vehicle by a distracted parent or caregiver. No parent ever thinks they’ll forget their baby or child in the car, but even a great parent can forget a sleeping child in the backseat. And part-time caregivers who are unaccustomed to regularly transporting the child can be especially prone to forgetting.
Look Before You Lock
All adults should always remember to “Look Before You Lock” to make sure there are no children left in the vehicle. Some other simple reminders are listed below.
- Writing a reminder note about the child and putting it on the car door or dash to see it when you leave the vehicle.
- Setting a reminder on your cell phone to alert you to check that you dropped your child off at day care.
- Placing a purse, briefcase, cell phone, or something you’ll need in the back seat, so you will always have to check the back seat when leaving a vehicle.
- Keep a familiar object in your child’s safety seat, such as a stuffed toy, so when you remove it when your child is buckled in, you can place the object in the front to always remember your child is in the safety seat.
- Never letting kids play in an unattended vehicle – or leaving a child alone in a car, even if you leave the windows partly open or the air conditioning on, even for just a few minutes.
If you are not a parent or caregiver — you also have an important role to play. If you happen to see a child alone in a hot vehicle, make sure the child is okay and responsive. If the child appears okay, quickly do everything you can to locate the parents.
But if the child is not responsive and appears in distress, call 911 immediately and follow their directions. When the child is out, cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath, but by spraying them with cool water).
Sometimes bystanders are reluctant to get involved, and surveys suggest 63 percent of adults just assume the parents will be right back. But what if they are not?
Bystanders should know that States have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect them from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. So if you happen to pass by and see a child alone in a hot car, do not hesitate. Please act!
We need parents, caregivers and bystanders working together to help end these tragic heatstroke deaths — Because kids and hot cars don’t mix.
Download Our Publication
Please click below to download, view and print copies of our publication “Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention” at your own convenience.