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How to prevent heatstroke deaths in children

To help prevent fatal heatstroke, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a press release reminding parents about the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars. According to NHTSA, in the U.S., one child suffers fatal injuries in a hot vehicle almost every 10 days on average.

It is important to note that these deadly incidents are not always the result of someone purposely leaving a child alone in a hot car. In fact, most of the time, the child is accidentally forgotten or has gotten into an unattended car and cannot get out. Almost three in 10 child heatstroke deaths occur because a child has accidentally trapped his or herself in a vehicle.

Why is this so dangerous?

NHTSA warns that children suffer heatstroke very quickly because they are smaller and weigh less than adults. Additionally, they can get heatstroke on a relatively cool day. With an outside temperature of just 60 degrees, the interior of a car can reach 110 degrees. Once a child's core body temperature is 107 degrees, heatstroke is fatal.

What can parents do?

"Look before you lock" is NHTSA's child safety campaign. It includes tips such as:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Get in the habit of checking the back seat before you get out and lock the doors.
  • Use a stuffed animal or other object to remind yourself the child is in the car. When he or she is in the car, keep the object in the passenger seat so you can see it.
  • Make sure unattended vehicles are locked and that your child cannot get your keys.
  • Remember that the interior temperature of a vehicle can increase more than 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.

Finally, if you ever see an unattended child in a vehicle, call 911. You could prevent a tragedy from happening to another family.

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