August can be one of the most dangerous times of the year in many parts of the country, where humidity and temperatures can reach stifling heights and cause heath concerns for many citizens, especially children. Over a dozen child fatalities have already resulted from severe heatstroke this year, most commonly sustained from being left unattended in family vehicle. Last year 44 infants and toddlers were lost due to heat stroke from sitting in a hot car. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) assert that all of these deaths are unnecessary and 100 percent preventable, and have revamped their “Where’s Baby?” campaign for the third year to raise awareness about the issue.
Both agencies are reminding parents that heatstroke caused by leaving a child unintended in a vehicle takes a rapid toll. Due to their construction, vehicles heat up incredibly rapidly as they absorb sunlight and trap heat inside. On a warm day under 80 degrees Fahrenheit , the temperature can build up to dangerous level within ten minutes even when windows have been rolled down a few inches. Higher temperatures will cause the car to heat up even faster. When a child’s body temperature reaches over 102 severe health complications can occur, and when their temperatures reaches above 107 degrees there is a high risk of fatality.
DOT and NHTSA are urging parents and caregivers to take a few precautions to help prevent heatstroke occurring to your family, friends and neighbors.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Even if the windows are down or air conditioning is on the child is in danger.
- Check the entire vehicle before locking the doors and walking away and store keys out of a child’s reach to avoid them investigating a vehicle on their own.
- Ask your childcare provider to call if your child fails to show up for care as anticipated. This is simply a good overall practice to retain knowledge of your young child’s whereabouts.
A child who has been exposed to high temperature should be removed from a vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled. The DOT and NHTSA also urge community members who encounter or witness a child alone in a vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number when temperatures are hot because the child is in danger.
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