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Washington, U.S.A. — A five-month-old boy from Tennessee was the eighth child to die from heatstroke in a vehicle in the past days, bringing this year’s total deaths to 23. Safe Kids Worldwide is issuing a national alert to stop these heartbreaking and entirely preventable tragedies.
“Whether you are a parent, caregiver or just a concerned bystander, you can help save lives,” says Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “We are urging everyone to ACT: Avoid hyperthermia-related deaths by never leaving your child alone in a car and always locking doors and trunks; create reminders and habits for you and your child’s caregivers to ensure you don’t forget your child; and Take action if you see a child unattended in a vehicle by immediately calling 911.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this past July was the hottest month on record for the nation. With more hot weather to come and the record number of deaths in the first week of August, it’s critical to get the word out. Even on a mild day, temperatures inside a car can rise nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Leaving a window slightly open has no effect on the temperatures inside a car.
Every year, children die of heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, while unattended in vehicles. Safe Kids warns that these deaths can happen anytime, anywhere. In partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Safe Kids and its network of 600 coalitions are focused on raising awareness to stop these needless deaths.
“More than 550 children have died this way since 1998,” said Carr. “Most people don’t think this could possibly happen to them, yet it does.”
Heat stroke happens when the body cannot cool itself fast enough and the core temperature rises to dangerous levels. Children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
“Kids react differently to heat than adults,” says Dr. Leticia Ryan of Children’s National Medical Center, Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services. “Infants and young children haven’t fully developed the internal systems regulating body temperature, putting them at much greater risk for organ failure and death when exposed to excessive heat. We see this all too often in the emergency room, and it’s absolutely devastating.”
Since 1998, more than half of fatalities occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot their child was in the car. Thirty percent occurred when a child was playing in an unattended vehicle and became trapped and seventeen percent were intentionally left.
Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near-misses by remembering to ACT. Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by: