As we enter the dog days of summer, when the heat and humidity seems unbearable at times, it’s important to remember steps to protect our children against heatstroke.
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children younger than 14. In 2014, 32 children died from heatstroke, and heatstroke deaths have been reported in all 50 states, 11 months out of the year. Since 1998, more than 636 children across the U.S. have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle.
Tragically, most child deaths caused by heatstroke are preventable. More than half of all heatstroke deaths occurred when a busy or distracted caregiver forgot a child was riding in the backseat of a vehicle. One-third of heatstroke deaths resulted from a child becoming trapped inside a vehicle after climbing in on their own.
Heatstroke dangers are entirely avoidable when caregivers take time to observe safety protocols. Remember to ACT against heatstroke through these safety tips recommended by Safe Kids Worldwide:
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child unattended in a vehicle. A young child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body, and the internal temperature of a car can increase 20 degree in just 10 minutes. Cracking windows won’t make the car environment any safer.
C: Create reminders for those chaotic days. Hang a note on your rearview mirror or make a habit of placing your purse or briefcase beside a car seat. Create an alarm or alert on your Smartphone. Be accountable to someone else for dropping a child off at a daycare.
T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
On July 31, National Heatstroke Awareness Day, Safe Kids Fayette County will host an event at Buy Buy Baby in Hamburg to spread awareness of the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a car campaign. The event will take place from 3 to 6 p.m., with car seat checks until 5:30 p.m. In addition to car seat checks, Safe Kids representatives will provide information and tips for preventing heatstroke deaths.
For more information about heatstroke prevention, visit kidsandcars.org.
Sherri Hannan is a registered nurse and director of Safe Kids Fayette County based at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.