Each year, children die from hyperthermia after being left unattended in motor vehicles. A child dies from heatstroke about once every 10 days from being left alone in a hot vehicle. In fact, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatality for kids 14 and younger. Children climb into unlocked cars to play, or are left alone in the car. These are tragedies that are 100 percent preventable.
The Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue will join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and SafeKids to raise awareness about the dangers of kids and cars through a concerted day-long social media conversation and “reminder give-a-way.” We will be reaching out to our community to post on Facebook every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We would ask that you please join us and our partners at NHTSA and Safe Kids.
As periods of high temperatures continue throughout the summer, individuals should heed weather warnings to avoid becoming a victim of hyperthermia, a heat-related illness referred to as heat stroke/sunstroke. Hyperthermia occurs when the body is exposed to excessive heat and produces or absorbs more heat than it can release causing the body’s temperature to climb.
Hyperthermia can affect anyone, yet children and the elderly are most vulnerable. Each year, children die from hyperthermia after being left unattended in motor vehicles. In 2012, there were a total of 33 hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars. “These numbers represent young peoples lives,” said Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin McGee, “and Prince William County is not immune to this tragic loss of life, one of our own county children is represented in last years death toll.” So far this year, 24 children have died in hot cars due to hyperthermia, two from the D.C. Metropolitan area (one in Virginia and one in Maryland). July 2013 holds the record for being the most deadly month for children trapped in cars.
Prince William Public Safety Departments, Kids and Cars and Safe Kids USA remind parents and caregivers to be vigilant and take time, today, to begin implementing and practicing safe measures in the prevention of injuries and deaths caused by vehicular hyperthermia. To prevent this tragedy from occurring parents and caregivers must:
NEVER leave children unattended in a car – NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE
ALWAYS check the back seat of the vehicle before exiting (Beat the Heat, Check the Backseat)
Heatstroke Safety Tips
Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a
minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
Go a Step Further: Create Extra Reminders and Communicate with Daycare
Create a calendar reminder for your electronic devices to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare.
Develop a plan with your daycare so that if your child is late, you’ll be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off children at daycare.
Teach Kids Not to Play in Cars
Make sure to lock your vehicle, including doors and trunk, when you’re not using it. Keep keys and remote entry fobs out of children’s sight and reach.
Teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play. If your child is missing, get help and check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks.
If your children are locked in a car, get them out as quickly as possible and dial 911 immediately. Emergency personnel are trained to evaluate and check for signs of heatstroke.