Hot Cars Quickly Become Deadly for Children
By Renée McCabe
Hot spring and summer days have contributed to more than 52 child deaths for 2019 in the United States as a result of heatstroke. Safe Kids Greater Augusta reminds caregivers to never leave children alone in a vehicle, and if you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. Hyperthermia occurs when the body can’t cool itself quickly and its temperature rises to dangerous levels. Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies. Since 1998, more than 790 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when left alone in a vehicle. The numbers have risen over the past 2 years.
“A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes and cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Renée McCabe, RN, BSN, Injury Prevention and Safety Program Manager at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t want to see this happen to any family. That’s why Safe Kids is asking everyone to help protect kids from this easily preventable tragedy by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”
Together, we can reduce the number of deaths and near misses 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 make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
- C: Create Reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other mementos in your child’s car seat when it’s empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
- T: Take Action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel wants you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 19. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, call 706-721-7606, or visit augustahealth.org/safekids. Check out more safety tips, the Ultimate Car Seat Guide and “Parent Pep Talk” at SafeKids.org.
Photo courtesy of Metrocreative