Preventing child heatstroke deaths and injuries in hot cars this summer


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As the weather heats up in the Peach State, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) is reminding parents and caretakers about the dangers of heatstroke when children are left unattended in hot cars.

According to NHTSA, the temperature in a parked car rises well above the outside temperature, and a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.

Since 1998, nearly 900 children have died from being left in hot cars nationwide. Thirty-five of those deaths were in Georgia.

“Thousands of children in Georgia are cared for daily by child care providers. In 2020, nine children were left in cars by childcare providers, and in 2021, two children have been left,” Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy Jacobs said.

“While these numbers are improving, we can’t become complacent,” she added.

Watch a demo on how quickly a car can heat up below:

Jacobs says it’s important to bring your child with you when you leave your car, even if you’re planning on only being away for a few minutes. A car can heat up more than 20 degrees and become a deadly environment for a child in just 10 minutes.

“Sometimes we’re asked, ‘Is this still an issue?’ And while the numbers are improving, the data indicates that this is still a problem, and we need reminders, especially as we enter the hot summer months,” Jacobs said.

“Thankfully, to date, no child has died as a result of pediatric vehicular heatstroke in 2021, and we want to keep it that way,” she added.

In order to prevent these tragedies in 2021, the administration is launching their “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” campaign and Heatstroke Prevention Awareness Day on May 1.

The campaign highlights steps to take in case you find a child locked inside a hot vehicle, as well as helpful reminders to check your car before you leave.

  • Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to “Park, Look, Lock,” or always ask yourself, “Where’s Baby?”
  • Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat as another reminder to look before you lock. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger’s seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
  • Always lock your car doors and trunk year-round so children can’t get into unattended vehicles.
  • Store car keys out of a child’s reach and teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is on, check to see if a parent or caregiver is around.
  • If you see a child alone in a locked car, get them out immediately and call 911. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible.

Find more information about preventing hot car fatalities on the NHTSA website.

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