Did you know…
- Every year, 35 to 40 children across the country die from heat exposure in vehicles? Sadly, these deaths can be prevented.
- The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes? In fact, it gets so hot that s’mores can be cooked in the backseat.
- A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s? Even a few minutes of heat exposure can be dangerous for a child.
- With its soaring temperatures, July is historically the deadliest month for child fatalities in hot cars? But hyperthermia can occur even on days with mild 70 degree temperatures.
Some of these deaths occur when a parent accidentally forgets a child in a car; some occur when a parent intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle. In other cases, a child was playing in an unattended vehicle when overtaken by heat.
That’s why you should NEVER leave a child unattended in a car, for any length of time or at any time of year.
Follow these tips to ensure that your child never becomes a victim of hyperthermia:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.
- Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.
- Make an agreement with your child’s school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.
This video shows how quickly temperatures inside a car can increase, putting anyone inside of that car at risk of injuries or even death caused by heatstroke.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and Safe Kids North Carolina are reminding people of the dangers of leaving children in cars. According to Safe Kids USA, 11 children have died of heatstroke in vehicles so far in 2017 and three children died in North Carolina in 2016.
“Never leave a child alone in a car, even for a short amount of time. And if you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately,” said Causey, state chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. “One child’s death is one too many, so I’m asking all parents and caregivers to take a few simple steps to prevent an avoidable tragedy.”
The danger of vehicular hyperthermia in children in North Carolina spreads from February through November due to the subtropical climate. Hyperthermia can occur even on days with mild 70-degree temperatures. The temperature in a closed vehicle can reach over 180 degrees (www.noheatstroke.org) and rise about 20 degrees in 10 minutes and nearly 30 degrees in 20 minutes. Cracking a window has little effect.
Parents and caregivers can cut down on the number of hyperthermia deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT:
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure to keep your 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 that you need at your final destination, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.
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.
Safe Kids North Carolina reaches out to parents, caregivers and children in 71 counties served by 46 coalitions across the state. For more safety tips and information about Safe Kids North Carolina, visit www.ncsafekids.org.
Visit the following sites for more information and materials:
- San Francisco State Univ. Report on Child Heatstroke Deaths in Cars
- Heatstroke Safety Tips from Safe Kids Worldwide (PDF)
- A Simulation of Rapid and Extreme Car Heating from Direct Sunlight (Video)