“Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes,” said Seema Csukas, M.D., Ph.D., interim director of DPH’s Maternal and Child Health Program. “More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and an estimated 30 percent are from a child getting into a vehicle on their own.”
According to NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children age 14 and under. In fact, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days, from being left in a hot vehicle. Warning signs of heatstroke 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 exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose, not with an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Important Safety Tips for All Adults
• Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows arepartly open, or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
• Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front and back—before locking the door and walking away.
• Always lock vehicle doors and trunks, and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
• Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child doesn’t arrive as planned for childcare. Make it a habit to call your provider every time your child will be absent.
• If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose, not with an ice bath.
• Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
• Place your purse, briefcase, or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle.
• Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
To learn more about how to keep your child safe and how you can help raise awareness about heat-related injuries for children visit: http://www.safekids.org/nlyca and www.ggweather.com/heat.