Escalating temperatures inside vehicles can be fatal for children

Through the NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE campaign, Safe Kids USA, along with many other partners such as AAA, is working to increase awareness and reduce heat stroke deaths to children left unattended in vehicles.

Temperatures can escalate rapidly inside vehicles, putting any child occupant almost immediately at risk. Unfortunately, there have already been three confirmed heat stroke fatalities this year. The first occurred in early March in Florida on a day that reached on 73 degrees, the second occurred in late April in Georgia on a day that reached 86 degrees and the third occurred just six days later in Texas on a day that reached 80 degrees. Between 1998 and 210, 450 children died from heat stroke  because they were unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive. As summer approaches and temperatures soar, Safe Kids of Greater Chattanooga area reminds parents and caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE is part of Safe Kids Buckle Up, the multifaceted child passenger safety program conducted by Safe Kids and sponsored by General Motors Foundation. Safe Kids Buckle Up is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the importance of properly restraining children and protecting them in and around vehicles at all times.

“A child’s core body temperature can rise three to four times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heat stroke – even on a day with mild temperatures,” says Cindy Jackson, program coordinator for Safe & Sound, a childhood injury prevention service of T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, and Safe Kids of Greater Chattanooga Area lead.

Safe Kids urges all adults to take the following steps:

  • Call 911 if they see a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Never leave children alone in a vehicle – even for a minute.
  • Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag, or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor of the child in a back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child before leaving.
  • Set your computer “Outlook” program to ask you, “Did you drop off the kids at daycare today?”
  • Have a plan with your child care provider to call if you child does not arrive when expected.
  • Check cars and trunks first if a child is missing.

More than 50 percent of the children who died from heat stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle. Thirty percent of kids who died from hyperthermia were left unattended by an adult or gained entry into an unlocked vehicle and because trapped and overcome by heat. “It takes only minutes for a chid to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car” added Jackson. “Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children at all times.

For more information on preventing hyperthermia deaths, please visit www.safekids.org/nlyca and www.ggweather.com/heat. Be sure to NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE in a vehicle.

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