Kids die in hot cars … even in September
The dangers of leaving your child in a car during the cool months
Every summer you see a big push from us about not leaving your child in a hot vehicle. But the fall is not bringing us any relief from the heat and two children have died this week as a result of being left in a car.
According to noheatstroke.org, 32 children have died in the U.S. as a result of being left in a car. In all of 2015, 24 kids died.
On Sept. 21, 2016, a 7-month-old baby died in a hot car in Huntsville, Ala. The temperature was 94 degrees. The following day, a 4-month-old child died in Geronimo, Okla. The temperature at the time was 96 degrees.
As anyone who lives in a state like Texas can attest, summer-like temperatures can occur even in winter. But it doesn’t take a scorching hot day for a child to be in danger. Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states.
“It truly doesn’t have to be a ‘hot’ day in Texas for a death to occur,” said Dana Walraven, Community Health Outreach manager at Cook Children’s and Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator. “The temperature inside a vehicle can quickly climb over 20 degrees hotter than outdoor temperature. So even a cool day in Texas can become dangerous very quickly. Since children’s body heat rises three to five times faster than adults, it’s important to know that temperatures can become deadly any time of year.
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. It occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.
Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
Because of this, and because cars heat up so quickly – 19 degrees in 10 minutes – tragedies can happen faster than you think. Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death.
“We still have to get the word out that there’s never a safe time to leave your child in the car,” said Sharon Evans,Trauma/Injury Prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s, said. “We’ve seen children die in February. We hope people will take extra precaution in never leaving a child in the car.”
Safe Kids Worldwide says that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle related deaths for children and that young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adults’.
It’s hard to imagine someone forgetting a child is in the car, but human error, and people make these mistakes during their busy day-to-day lifestyle. Safe Kids recommend the “ACT” method to prevent tragedy to your child or to a child you see left in a car:
- 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.
Cook Children's partners with the community to raise awareness and meet learning needs centered around injury prevention and child safety equipment. Read more about it here.