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Keep Kids Out of Hot Cars

Thursday, July 11, 2013

This summer, 15 children have died in hot cars, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Many of the stories start out the same, parent leaves child unattended in a car, forgets child is there, and the results are deadly.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the temperature in a car begins to increase after only 10 minutes. Even if it’s 60 degrees outside, the internal temperature of a car can rise above 110 degrees.

Children trapped in hot cars often suffer heatstroke. Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and occurs when the body becomes overwhelmed by excessive heat and can no longer regulate temperature.

“Children die from heatstroke every year after being left alone in a car or vehicle. The recent tragic events in our local area should put families on high alert to discuss and create a prevention plan to avoid an unfortunate life altering event in their own family,” said Sally Wilson, RN, BSN, Education, Prevention, and Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Trauma and Burns at Children’s National Health System.

Wilson said that children are more vulnerable to heat -- a child’s body responds to the ambient temperature three to five times faster than an adult. When a child’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees and continues to rise their organs start to fail and when a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees her body will shut down and the child will die.

NHTSA Prevention:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away
  • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare
  • 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

If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

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