SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Heatstroke is the leading cause of vehicle-related deaths for children and has contributed to the deaths of more than 845 children in the past two decades.
It’s also common for owners to leave their pets in the car while they run into a store for an errand.
Memorial Health has teamed up with the Humane Society of Greater Savannah to cut down the number of child and pet deaths due to heatstroke this summer. They demonstrated how on a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows cracked.
A hot car can quickly become dangerous, and your child or pet can suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.
Young children and animals are particularly susceptible to fatal heatstroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults.
“Some signs of distress in animals are vomiting, excessive panting, and staggering,” Foster Coordinator for the Humane Society of Greater Savannah Montana Tohm said.
“If the car is parked outside of a store or restaurant, you can go into the store and let them know that you found an animal in a car and they can say over the speakerphone for the owner of the car to check on their dog,” she added.
Tohm says it’s better to air on the side of caution when it comes to animals and children in hot vehicles. She says if you see something, say something.
Last year, 54 children died nationwide from hot car incidents, and five children have already passed away from heatstroke in a hot vehicle in 2020. Tohm says hundred of animals passed away in cars last year.
“A lot of instances are unfortunately due to people being out of their routine,” Memorial Health’s Safe Kids Coordinator Sam Wilson said.
“They don’t usually drop their child off on Tuesday mornings,” he added. “They forget they have their child in their car. So it’s always a good idea to really establish reminders to allow you to make sure you’re checking your backseat.”
They say it’s as simple as remembering to ACT:
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And, remember to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or, place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations and urge that one call could save a life.