BOISE, Idaho – A tragic storyearlier this week from the Magic Valley about the death of a young toddler from heatstroke believed to be caused by the child being left in a hot care, only reinforces the need to continue delivering the message that children should never be left alone in a vehicle. While it may seem like only a moment, leaving a child in a hot car can quickly turn deadly.
“Hot cars pose a greater danger for children because a child’s core body temperature increases three to five times faster than in adults,” said Dr. Kenny Bramwell, a pediatric emergency specialist with St. Luke’s. “Such a rapid increase can cause permanent brain damage or even death.”
Heatstroke is the number one cause of non‐crash, vehicle‐related death in children ages 14 and under. Every year, nearly 40 children nationwide die from hyperthermia or heat stroke caused from being left in an automobile. Many people aren’t aware how quickly an automobile can heat up.
Studies have shown that within 10 minutes, the inside temperature of a vehicle can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature; after 30 minutes the vehicle’s temperature can be up to 34 degrees hotter. To protect children from Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke keep these important points in mind:
- Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is on.
- Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
- Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
- If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure you dropped the child off.
- Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
- Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
- Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
- Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
- Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
Finally, if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Warning signs may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly by moving to an air conditioned area, applying damp cloths and providing liquids. Call 911 immediately.