the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, The Ridgewood Health Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want you to know that a child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees; death can follow in a child when that temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Even with moderate temperatures outside, the inside of a car can heat up to well above 110 degrees in minutes. But with summer upon us, and daytime temperatures in many areas across the country shooting well above 90 degrees, vehicles will heat up even faster.
That makes it vitally important to be aware of the dangers that vehicles—especially hot ones—pose to children, because tragedies can, and do, happen.
In fact, from 1998-2017, 718 children across the nation died due to heatstroke in a hot vehicle. In 2017, 18 children have died due to vehicular heatstroke, and that number continues to climb. On average, a child dies every 10 days from vehicular heatstroke, with an average of 37 children per year. Such deaths are the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger. Just as tragic, between 1998-2016, over half (54%) of the child heatstroke deaths were because the child was forgotten in the vehicle by a distracted parent or caregiver.
No parent ever thinks that it can happen to them, but a quietly sleeping child in the back seat can be forgotten, even by a great parent. And part-time caregivers who are unaccustomed to regularly transporting children can be especially prone to forgetting.
That’s why all adults should always remember to “Look Before You Lock” to make sure there are no children left in the vehicle. Some other simple reminders include:
• Write a reminder note about the child and put it on the car door or dashboard to see it when you leave the vehicle.
• Set a reminder on your cell phone to alert you to check that you dropped your child off at daycare.
• Place a shoe, purse, briefcase, or cell phone next to the child’s car seat to remind yourself that your child is in the car.
• Keep a familiar object, like a stuffed toy, in your child’s car seat. When you remove it to buckle up your child, place the object in the front seat. It will serve as a reminder to always check the back seat for your child.
• Never let kids play in an unattended vehicle or leave a child alone in a car, even if you leave the windows partly open or the air conditioning on—even for just a few minutes. Also, keep car keys away from where children can reach them.
If you are not a parent or caregiver, you still have an important role to play. If you happen to see a child alone in a hot vehicle, make sure the child is okay and responsive. If the child appears to be okay, quickly do everything you can to locate the parents.
If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, call 911 immediately and follow their directions. When the child is out of the vehicle, cool the child rapidly (not with an ice bath, but by spraying with cool water).
Sometimes bystanders are reluctant to get involved; surveys suggest that 63 percent of adults just assume the parents will be right back. But what if they aren’t?
Bystanders should know that states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect them from lawsuits for helping a person in an emergency. So if you happen to see a child alone in a hot car, do not hesitate— please act!
We need parents, caregivers and bystanders all working together to help end these tragic heatstroke deaths—because hot cars kill children.
Visit www.safercar.gov/heatstroke for more information. #heatstrokekills #checkforbaby