By Amanda Griffin
Safe Kids Upstate NY Coalition Coordinator, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital
With the summer in full swing and many areas reaching record high temperatures, it is important to remind parents and caregivers to never leave your child alone in the car, not even for a minute! Already in 2013, there have been 20 heatstroke related fatalities. Heatstroke results when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Young children are at a heightened risk as their body heats up three to five times faster than adults. On a warm day, cars will heat up quickly, 19 degrees in 10 minutes! On an 80 degree day the inside of a closed car can quickly reach and exceed 100 degrees. When a child’s internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees, major organs can shut down, and when their temperature reaches 107 degrees they can die.
Last year, 33 children died and two years ago there were 49 deaths related to heatstroke. Since 1998, more than 580 children across theUnited States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. These heatstroke deaths were the result of:
- 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
- 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle
- 18% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
These tragedies can happen to anyone, and have occurred when a parent intentionally has left a child in their car to run into the store or when a curious child has entered a vehicle on their own and cannot get back out of their car. Heatstroke deaths have even resulted when parents unintentionally forget to drop their children off at daycare. They may have switched their normal routines or encountered distractions and headed directly to their office or other locations instead of their child’s daycare center, as was the case with parent, Reggie McKinnon.
Safe Kids Worldwide encourages everyone to ACT, and provides these helpful tips:
- A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
- C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
- T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
For more information on preventing heatstroke visit Safe Kids Worldwide.