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Safety tips for children and hot cars from Safe Kids Worldwide

In 2018, 52 children died in hot cars, making it the deadliest year on record in the last 20 years. As warmer weather fast approaches, Safe Kids Worldwide and the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) are joining together to raise awareness about the importance of child reminder technology and the need for increased public education around the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. 
 
“Nearly 800 children have died in hot cars over the last 20 years, and each of those deaths was preventable,” said Safe Kids Worldwide president Torine Creppy. “As bystanders, we all have a role to play in preventing vehicular heatstroke in children. If you see a child alone in a car, take action and save a life.”
 
In keeping with its mission to help families and communities protect kids from preventable injuries, Safe Kids Worldwide partners with organizations like AAAM to increase its educational outreach and coordination around issues such as heatstroke deaths in children. To that end, Safe Kids supports AAAM’s latest recommendation that the United States, and all countries, encourage the development and widespread use of unattended child reminder systems and associated technology to reduce the occurrence of heat stress, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and other thermal injuries to children in vehicles. 
 
“We know that further progress is needed to prevent injury and death in children forgotten and left behind in motor vehicles,” stated AAAM president-elect Dr. Marilyn Bull. “There are immediate steps we can take, including developing effective education and advocacy strategies that will complement new and existing technology.” 
 
Reducing pediatric vehicular heatstroke, the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children, has long been a top priority for Safe Kids. During its 22-year partnership with Chevrolet and General Motors, Safe Kids created the heatstroke awareness and education campaign, Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car, to alert citizens to the dangers that vehicles pose to unattended children. 
 
“It is critical that parents and caregivers understand that it only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to a child inside,” said Ronda Lusk, coalition coordinator of Safe Kids Wichita Area coalition. “As summer temperatures, rise, more kids are at risk.”
 

Important Facts  

  • Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. 
  • It occurs when the body can’t cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. 
  • Young children are particularly at risk since their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults’ bodies. 
  • When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die. 
  • A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes and cracking a window doesn’t help.  
  • Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death. 

Top Safety Tips

 
To help protect kids from this preventable tragedy, remember to ACT:
 
  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.  
  • C: Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other mementos 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 and secure your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
 
For more information on heatstroke prevention, visit SafeKids.org.
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