Heat Stroke Still a Deadly Concern After Labor Day

Safe Kids Reminds Caregivers the Dangers of Unattended Children in Cars

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although Labor Day signals the end of summer for many, there will still be several weeks of warm weather and parents must continue to be diligent and never leave children alone in vehicles.  So far this year, at least 24 children have died from hyperthermia while unattended in vehicles in states all across the country.   To further advocate this cause, Safe Kids is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to discuss the importance for preventing such tragic events during town hall meetings nationwide.

"We know from past experience that these fatalities can continue to occur in September and October, when temperatures are still warm enough to cause danger in many parts of the country," said Torine Creppy, Executive Director of Safe Kids Buckle Up. "In past years, as many as twelve deaths after September 1."

It doesn't have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated.  Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the inside of a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.   What some do not realize is that a car acts like a greenhouse, a place no child should be alone.  Children's bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, making them more susceptible to heat stroke and more likely to suffer from heat stroke.    

"Don't be fooled into thinking that this can never happen to you.  Unfortunately, I did." says Reggie McKinnon, a father who accidently left his 8-month-old in a vehicle last year during a work day.  "Before this accident, every time I would read of a child dying in a parked car of Hyperthermia, I too would ask, 'how could they forget their child?'  I would never do that.  That only happens to people who are uneducated, drunk, drug-addicts, not me."

Kristie Reeves, a mother who lost her child to hyperthermia this year believes that "good communication between parents and teachers is the key to child safety and prevention of the devastating effects of hyperthermia."  Reeves said that, "One phone call can save a child's life."

Safe Kids expressed continued support for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's focus on reducing unattended child hyperthermia deaths in vehicles. "We commend NHTSA Administrator David Strickland's emphasis on educating the public about this problem and on conducting a broad coordinated national prevention campaign in 2012," Creppy stated.

Too many children have lost their lives to this completely preventable, heartbreaking tragedy.  There are steps you can take to help save lives and remember one phone call can save a life.  

Here's what parents and caregivers need to know and why.

  • 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.
  • Create reminders.  Many 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:
    • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.  
    • Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.  
    • Set your computer calendar program to ask, "Did you drop off at daycare today?"  Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes.  Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.
  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.  Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.

For more information on preventing child heat stroke deaths, please visit www.ggweather.com/heat and www.safekids.org/nlyca.

About Safe Kids USA
Safe Kids USA is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. More than 600 coalitions and chapters across the U.S. and 19 member countries across the globe bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.  For more information visit www.safekids.org.

SOURCE Safe Kids Worldwide


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