Where’s your child? Look before you lock.

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We are trying to raise awareness of an extremely dangerous practice that kills children every day.  Join Edwards & Ragatz, P.A. on July 31st  for National Heatstroke Preventional Day.

look before you lock

 In an article from the Washington Post, they delve into “Death by hyperthermia” and the aftermath for the parents. I truely recommend reading it – it is a hauntingly sad and beautifully written article. 

“When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just… forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall.”

I was alarmed to find out that leaving a child in a hot car happens more often than you think.  Such tragic incidents occur frequently enough to make heatstroke the “leading cause of non-crash related vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14, representing 61% of non-crash related fatalities in this age group.” As reported on kidsandcars.org – the number of children who have died in the past several years are alarming:

 

¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2013 as of 7/10/13: 21 (+ 2 in Canada)
¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2012: 32
¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2011 : 33
¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2010: 49
¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2009: 33
¢ Child vehicular heat stroke deaths to date (as of 5/21/13), well over 650
¢ Average number of child vehicular heat stroke deaths per year since 1998: 38 (one every 9 days)
¢ The highest number of fatalities for a one-year time period took place in 2010: 49

 

Circumstances

  • An examination of media reports about the 561 child vehicular heatstroke deaths for an thirteen year period (1998 through 2012) shows the following circumstances:
    • 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (288 Children)
    • 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle (163)
    • 18% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (101)
    • 2% – circumstances unknown (9)

To avoid such senseless tragedies, never leave a child unattended in a car, even if the windows are tinted or down. Period.  The temperature in a parked vehicle can quickly rise to lethal levels even on a cloudy or overcast day. What’s more, don’t allow children to play in unlocked, parked vehicles and never leave car keys where children have access to them. For this reason, hyperthermia awareness needs to be a 365-day top-of-the mind operation. Heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees, according to SaferCar.gov.
Again, never leave children inside a parked car. If you do see a child locked in a car and cannot find the owner of the vehicle, call 911 immediately.
To avoid the horrors of inadvertently leaving a child in a hot vehicle during the dog days of summer, parents and caregivers should use reminders. For example, when you first place a child in a car seat in the back seat of the car, also open the glove compartment door, flip down the passenger side visor or put a purse in the back seat.  In addition, the following safety tips are recommended by NHTSA to help prevent the risk of serious injury or death to children left in cars:

·         Prevention Tips

    • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
    • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
    • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
    • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
    • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
    • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
    • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
    • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
    • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
      • Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
      • Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
      • Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.

What you need to know, now

    • Vehicles heat up quickly – even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s° Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes.
    • Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness.
    • Children’s bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult. Also, children are less able to lower their body heat by sweating. When a body cannot sweat enough, the body temperature rises rapidly.
      • In fact, when left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.

Dangers of Extreme Heat

    • Symptoms of heatstroke: Warning signs vary but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, being grouchy, or acting strangely.
    • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

 

Please be safe and aware!

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