Help Raise Awareness About Preventing Child Heatstroke
With record-setting heat blanketing significant portions of the country for much of this summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide are highlighting the dangers of child heatstroke in hot cars and urging parents and caregivers to think, “Where’s baby? Look before you lock,” the primary message in NHTSA’s heatstroke public education campaign.
Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show at least 24 children have died due to heatstroke already in 2013 – medically termed “hyperthermia.”
Today, July 31st, as part of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, NHTSA, Safe Kids and safety advocates across the country will raise awareness about the dangers of children in hot cars during a day-long social media conversation. Child heatstroke messaging, statistics and prevention tips will be posted on Facebook and Twitter – using the hash tag #heatstroke – every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
An unknown number of children are also injured each year due to heatstroke in hot cars, suffering ailments including permanent brain injury, blindness and the loss of hearing, among others. Often heatstroke deaths and injuries occur after a child gets into an unlocked vehicle to play without a parent’s knowledge. Other incidents can occur when a parent or caregiver who is not used to transporting a child as part of their daily routine inadvertently forgets a sleeping infant in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle.
When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down two inches. Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under four years old are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness.
NHTSA, Safe Kids and its safety partners are urging parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front and back—before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and,
- Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
In addition, NHTSA and Safe Kids urge community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” campaign, visit www.SaferCar.gov/heatstroke.
To learn more about Safe Kids’ “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” campaign, visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.