Heatstroke also can happen when a child is left in, or becomes accidentally trapped in, a car on a hot day. When the outside temperature is 93º F (33.9º C), the temperature inside a car can reach 125º F (51.7º C) in just 20 minutes, quickly raising body temperature to dangerous levels.
“A child’s body is not the same as adults - it can heat up five times faster than an adult’s,” says Dr. Patricia Abboud, pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children's. “A child can die from heat stroke even on a comfortable 72-degree day.”
What parents can do
Since 1998, more than 500 children across the U.S. have died as a result of hyperthermia (also known as heat stroke). Some children are forgotten in the car by a caregiver, while others gain access to an unlocked hot car and then become locked inside. For every child who dies after being left alone in a hot car, hundreds more are near misses - those rescued before a fatality. Together we can reduce the number of deaths and near misses by remembering these simple tips:
Remember to ACT:
- Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by:
- Never leaving your child alone in the car, not even for a minute.
- Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks so children cannot climb in to play.
- Create reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver added security:
- Establish a plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.
- Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop in a back seat next to your child.
- Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.
- Take action if you see an unattended child in a vehicle:
- Dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions provided by emergency personnel – they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.
“Finally, tell others about the importance of never leaving their child alone in the car and creating reminders to keep all little ones safe,” says Dr. Abboud. “Together we can prevent these devastating tragedies.”
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