#HeatStrokeKills: July 31 is National Heat Stroke Prevention Day
As a parent, this is one of the stories I most hate writing each year; I simply cannot imagine anything more painful for a family than for a beloved baby to die because somebody left their child in a hot car. And yet, 17 such deaths have already been reported in 2014.
To raise awareness of the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars, KidsandCars.org, safekids.org, NHTSA.gov, and many other child-safety advocacy groups, mark July 31 as Heat Stroke Prevention Day to educate parents and caregivers to prevent children from being left alone in a hot vehicle.
The statistics are horrifying: 44 children died in 2013 because they were left unattended in a hot vehicle and, as I stated earlier, 17 deaths have already been reported in 2014, reports nhtsa.gov. In the past 20 years more than 670 U.S. children have died in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars.org, the leading national nonprofit group dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles.
Even on a 75-degree day, the interior of a vehicle can reach more than 100 degrees in approximately 20 minutes. On an 80-degree day the interior of a vehicle can reach 100 degrees or more in just 10 minutes. A parked car during the heat of summer can reach 125 degrees in minutes, even with the windows partially open. When the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs start to shut down. When it reaches 107 degrees, the person dies. Children are especially vulnerable to heat stroke, as their body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult's.
1) in more than half the cases (52%), they are “forgotten” by a distracted caregiver when they arrive at their destination;
2) in about 30% of cases, they climb into an unlocked car or trunk to play and are overcome by heat and can’t climb out; and
3) in about 17% of cases, they are intentionally left alone by a driver who might have left the child to sleep or gone to run an errand.
DOT and NHTSA urge parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:
1) Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on
2) Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
3) Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn't show up for care as expected;
4) Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a phone, purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and
5) Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach.
In addition, DOT and NHTSA urge community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or even with a garden hose).
To learn more about NHTSA's "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock." campaign, visit www.safercar.gov/heatstroke
Click here to learn more about KidsAndCars.org's "Be Safe" campaign
Find out how you can join the SafeKids.org Thunderclap to help raise awareness through social media
Click here to learn more about the General Motors and the General Motors Foundation, which committed more than $200,000 to launch Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car, an education and awareness campaign geared toward parents and caregivers.