A record number of 49 children died of heat stroke in 2010, which resulted from being left in motor vehicles.
The website kidsandcars.org warns parents and caregivers to take extra precautions to prevent leaving children alone in cars. This year’s reported cases are already on the path to supersede last year’s fatalities.
Children’s thermoregulatory systems are not as efficient as an adult’s and their body temperature heats up at a rate of three to five times faster than that of an adult’s. In less than 30 minutes, the temperature inside a car can increase 35 degrees. Even on a mild 75 degrees, an infant can die in as little as 15 minutes.
According to the Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, when the sun’s rays reflect on objects such as darker dashboards, seats, and steering wheels, temperatures can easily reach in the range of 200 degrees F. This very efficiently warms the trapped air inside a vehicle, even if the windows are cracked.
In most of the reported cases where children died in a hot car, the parent “forgot” because the child was asleep in the backseat. Unfortunately, with our jobs and busy lifestyles, there are many things on our minds and even the most conscientious parent can overlook a sleeping baby.
Learning the following safety tips can help you prevent vehicular heat stroke deaths:
Back seat – put something in the back seat so you have to open the door when leaving the vehicle (cell phone, handbag, employee badge, etc).
Every child should be correctly restrained, in the back seat.
Stuffed animal – move it from the car seat to the front seat to remind you when the baby is in the back seat.
Ask your babysitter or child-care provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn’t arrived on time.
Focus on driving. Avoid cell phone calls and texting while driving.
Every time you park you vehicle open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind.
Following these basic steps may prevent you from leaving your child behind. Practicing preventive measures is proven to help keep you and your family safer.
Rhonda Thompson, EMT, RN, is an Injury Prevention Coordinator for Botsford Hospital Trauma Services, 28050 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills. Contact her at 248-888-2586 or firstname.lastname@example.org