As part of the 52 Weeks of Public Health campaign, the Department for Public Health, located within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), urges the public to take steps to avoid injury and illness during periods of extreme summertime heat, particularly dangers associated with leaving children in vehicles.
According to Kids and Cars, an organization that works to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles, 39 children died last year due to heatstroke – medically termed “hyperthermia”.
Several measures are recommended to prevent these types of deaths from occurring. They include:
· Create reminders. More than half of child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can set a reminder on their cell phone or establish a plan with their child’s day care provider.
· Don’t underestimate the risk. The inside of vehicles can quickly heat up, even on relatively cool days, so you should never leave your child alone in a car. Don’t underestimate the risks and leave them even “just for a minute.”
· Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
· Immediately dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults. As a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks first if a child is missing.
· Monitor those at high risk. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years old and seniors 65 and older.