Media Release: Hot weather and vehicles can be a deadly combination for kids

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Overheating deaths are preventable with a few important tips

05-04-2009 (Dayton, OH) - A few minutes might not seem like a long time, but there are circumstances when it can mean the difference between life and death. As temperatures begin to heat up, children are at a serious risk for heat stroke when left alone even for a few minutes in a closed vehicle.

Last year, at least 42 children across the United States died from heatstroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle.

"A child is our most precious cargo and drivers must know that these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable," said Jessica Saunders, injury prevention coordinator at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton and coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Dayton.

"Our hearts go out to every family that has lost a child in this way. No one ever thinks it would happen to them, and that is why it's essential to get this message out, especially as the weather starts heating up."

Heat is much more dangerous to children than it is to adults. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child's core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult.

This could cause permanent injury or even death. Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A core body temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is considered lethal.

"The inside of a vehicle can rise 19 degrees above the outside temperature in just 10 minutes," said Saunders. "After an hour, the temperature inside and outside of a vehicle can differ by 45 degrees or more - even if the window is left open a crack."

According to research conducted by San Francisco State University, even with relatively cool temperatures outside—70 degrees—the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes.

The research also revealed that more than half of these children were accidentally left behind in a closed, parked car by parents or caregivers while nearly a third of these children were trapped while playing in a vehicle unattended. Sadly, one in five children who died were intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.

Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton suggest these four tips:

  1. Teach children not to play in, on or around vehicles.
  2. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
  3. Always lock a vehicle's doors and trunk - especially at home. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children's reach.
  4. Place something that you'll need at your next stop - such as a purse, a lunch, gym bag or briefcase - on the floor of the backseat where the child is sitting. This simple act could help prevent you from accidentally forgetting a child.

About Safe Kids Greater Dayton
Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Greater Dayton was founded in 1994 and is led by The Children's Medical Center of Dayton.

For more information, contact:
Marketing Communications Department
Phone: 937-641-3666


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