A kid in a car can die of heatstroke in 72 degrees; it’s 90+ out now
Hot weather means hot vehicles, which can be deadly when children are locked inside.
According to Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, since 1998, 761 children have died from heatstroke from being left in unattended, overheated vehicles. That including 12 such deaths in New Jersey.
Nationally, that’s an average of about 37 deaths annually, or one death every 10 days.
Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related death for children under the age of 14, according to AAA. In 2017 alone, vehicle heatstroke claimed the lives of 39 children, a 63 percent increase compared to 2015.
“Children are fragile, and they are certainly more susceptible to the heat and hot weather than adults,” Noble said. “There could be brain damage, severe dehydration. Their internal organs shut down. So this is a very dangerous situation.”
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body, meaning that a child can die of heat stroke on a 72-degree day, Noble said. This week's temperatures are over 90, with heat indexes in excess of 100 degrees.
Even on days that don’t feel dangerously hot, car surfaces can reach temperatures upward of 160 degrees, according to AAA>
“We have seen 18 deaths this year across the country regarding children left in hot cars — nine of those since Memorial Day," she said.
In some of those cases, she said, it was only 80 degrees out.
“Anytime there is warm temperature, vehicles can heat up, and it poses a danger for children being left in hot vehicles," Noble said.
Noble said the steps to prevent a tragedy are as simple as A-C-T:
• “A” for "avoid heatstroke" by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute, not even to run into a convenience store.
• "C” for "create electronic reminders." Noble said it's also useful to put something in the back seat you won't forget when exiting the car — like a cell phone, purse, wallet or briefcase.
• “T” for "taking action" and immediately calling 911 if you notice a child or animal unattended in the vehicle.
Noble added that motorists should also remember to lock their cars, even at home, so that children will not be tempted to get into unlocked cars to play. According to AAA’s data, about 51 percent of child hot car deaths in vehicles were caused by adults forgetting the children, while about 29 percent of victims were playing in unattended vehicles.
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