By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
At least 24 children have died this summer on account of heat stroke after being left inside hot vehicles. It goes without saying that hot cars pose a serious risk of injury to children and all parents are urged to immediately remove children from vehicles once completely stopped to avoid the risk of heat stroke, and worse, death.
The strong caution follows on the heels of a 4-month-old boy who died earlier this week after being left in a hot car overnight in El Cajon, Calif. According to reports, 80 degree weather caused the interior of the vehicle to swell into astronomically hot temperatures, leading to the infant’s death. The parents of the child were
arrested and charged
with willful cruelty to a child resulting in injury or death.
On average, 38 children die each year from being left in hot cars.
Federal safety officials are increasing awareness on the problem and have declared July 31 National Heatstroke Prevention Day.
“I’m deeply concerned that we will lose more children to a cause that is 100 percent preventable,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
on Fast Lane, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “If we can increase awareness of the dangers of heatstroke and spread easy-to-follow prevention tips, we can reduce the number of these incidents and their tragic consequences.”
HOW HOT CAN A VEHICLE GET?
Many parents mistakenly assume that a mild day couldn’t possibly produce deadly temperatures inside a vehicle. That assumption couldn’t be further than the truth.
According to the
, in 90 degree summer weather, a vehicle can reach 109 degrees in just 10 minutes. Give it just 10 minutes more, and the interior of a vehicle can reach 119 degrees. In just 90 minutes – that’s the likely equivalent of a trip into the grocery store – the interior of a vehicle can nearly reach an incredible 140 degrees.
There’s no doubt that exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to serious health risks to children and adults including death. It’s never been more important to remove children, pets and elderly from hot vehicles as soon as possible.
CHILDREN & HEAT STROKE
The body temperature of a child can increase five times faster than an adult in hot weather, so please remember to:
Always remove children from stopped vehicles immediately.
Shade won’t significantly help. One minute is too long. A cracked window doesn’t reduce your child’s risk of heat stroke or death. Remove your kids right away.
Always ask, “Where’s baby?”
Use a stuffed animal in the front seat to remind yourself to remove your child from his or her car seat. It may sound absurd to remind yourself of your child, but it’s often enough that people get used to a certain routine, forgetting children in the car in the process. It wasn’t long ago that a Sacramento couple
forgot their daughter
in the back seat after a horrible case of miscommunication. The child has since recovered but still suffers from brain damage. Don’t let it happen to you!