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Parents urged to keep children from hot vehicles

It is National Heatstroke Prevention Day and with summer temperatures heating up, parents are being reminded to never leave their children unattended inside a vehicle.

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(Noel Hendrickson, ThinkStock)

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. So far this year, 18 kids have died from being left in a hot car. That is down from 44 deaths in 2013. Since 1998, 632 children have died in hot vehicles.

“Of those deaths, 12 were children who were forgotten, unintentionally left in a vehicle.  Six were kids who had gotten into a vehicle on their own because they were either able to open a locked car or got into an unlocked vehicle and perished inside from a heat stroke,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Even on 70-degree days, the inside of a car can become much hotter than the temperature outside. In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up almost 20 degrees. Cracking a window does not help keep the inside of a car cool. Children are at a greater risk of heatstroke than adults because their body heats up three to five times faster. When a child’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs start to shut down. When it reaches 107, the child can die.

Safe Kids Worldwide has come up with an acronym to help reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke, ACT:

  • A - Avoid heastroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
  • C - Create reminders by putting something in the back seat next to your child like a purse, briefcase or cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important when you are not following your regular routine.
  • T – Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.

“It’s especially important to leave reminders if you are out of your routine, like driving your child to day care if you don’t usually do so,” Carr said. “Leave your cell phone, your wallet or even your left shoe in the back seat with your child. You certainly are going to need your shoe when you get out of the car. If you see a child alone in a car with the windows up, the door locked and no adult around, call 911. Emergency responders are trained to help you. They would rather have a false alarm then respond to a fatality.”

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