as temperatures rise, Dayton Children’s reminds the community to never leave a child alone in the car
As temperatures continue to rise in the Miami Valley, Dayton Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Dayton want to remind families to never leave a child alone in the car. This week, a 9-month-old died from hyperthermia (also known as heatstroke) in Florida after being left in a truck for hours. While many parents wonder how this could possibly happen, it actually happens more than you would think. Every 10 days in the United States a child dies when left alone in a hot car. This death in Florida is the 12th death this year nationwide and since 1998 more than 600 children have died as a result of hyperthermia.
“These tragedies are absolutely heartbreaking, and a reminder for all of us to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone in a car,” says Jessica Saunders, community relations manager and Safe Kids Greater Dayton Coordinator. “Many people are shocked to learn how hot the inside of a car can actually get. And cracking the window doesn’t help. That’s why Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton is asking everyone to help protect kids from this preventable tragedy by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Bystanders can also help by calling 911 if they see a child alone in a car.”
It doesn’t have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated. Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.
“Heatstroke occurs which the body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature,” says Patricia Abboud, MD, pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and a member of the Dayton Children’s Dr. Mom Squad. “If left untreated, body temperature can soar to 106º F (41.1º C) or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death. Prompt medical treatment is essential to bring the body temperature under control.”
To help prevent these tragedies, Safe Kids Worldwide, with the support of the General Motors Foundation, created Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car (NLYCAC) as part of its Buckle Up program, a national initiative established 17 years ago to keep children and families safe in and around cars.
Together, we can reduce the number of heatstroke deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT.
- A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
- C: Create reminders by putting something on the backseat of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
- T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
To gain perspective on such a tragic incident, we ask that concerned citizens read “Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?” by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer.
For more safety information, please visit www.safekids.org.
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