Temperatures are expected to rise in the weeks ahead – which is why it’s so important for parents to remember that while these summer days are great for the pool and the beach, they’re not so good for the inside of cars, which can raise to deadly temperatures in a very short period of time.
Nothing brings this message across more tragically than the fact that already this summer 16 children have died from heatstroke in the United States while left unattended in hot cars.
“These tragedies are happening far too often. They are heartbreaking and preventable, and a reminder for all of us to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone in a hot car,” said Marissa Fisher, a trauma nurse at Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health and Safe Kids Hudson County Coordinator. “Many people are shocked to learn how hot the inside of a car can actually get.”
According to Fisher, on an 80 degree day, the temperature inside of a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes and keep getting hotter with each passing minute. On a warmer day, temperatures inside a parked car can become unbearable even more quickly.
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down, and when that temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
Since 1998, at least 622 children across the United States have died in cars from heatstroke – that’s one child every 10 days. Some are accidentally left in rear-facing car seats when parents go to work and forget that it was their turn to drop their child off.
Heat stroke can quickly be fatal
According to Safe Kids Hudson County, part of a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the number one killer of kids in the United States, the key to preventing these tragedies is for every parent and caregiver to understand that this can happen to anybody. It can also be avoided with a little awareness and by taking a few simple precautions.
Safe Kids asks parents and caregivers to help protect kids by remembering to ACT:
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute – and making sure to keep the car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
C: Create reminders by putting something in the back 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.
“All too often these are well-meaning, responsible parents or caregivers, who at the moment are either preoccupied or rushed,” said Fisher. “This is a mistake that can have tragic consequences.”