COLUMBIA, Md. — Summer and warmer temperatures have arrived and with the hot weather comes the reminder not to leave children unattended in a vehicle under any circumstances.
Each year an average of 37 children die from becoming over-heated (hyperthermia) in a hot car according to the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise as much as 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes and 40 degrees in an hour.
For a person left in a vehicle, heatstroke will set in as the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees and fails to cool down properly. Children’s body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s, since their systems are not yet as efficient as an adult’s, according to NoHeatStoke.org. At 107 degrees, the body will begin to shut down organs and brain cells may become damaged. Leaving a child in a vehicle under these conditions can be deadly.
In order to prevent a tragedy from happening, Howard County Health Officer, Dr. Maura J. Rossman recommends adopting a plan to use each time you exit your vehicle:
•Start a “Look before you leave routine,” be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle. Check for sleeping babies.
•Place your purse, wallet or cellphone on the back seat as a reminder you have a child in the car.
•Set a computer calendar program to ask if a child was taken to daycare.
•Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not arrive for daycare.
•Look into new child reminder technologies that connect wireless car seat alarms to key rings. When you walk too far away from the car, the alarm rings; reminding you the harness is still connected.
•Do not allow children to play in cars.
Children are not the only ones in danger when left in a hot car. The elderly are also susceptible to the same dangers as youngsters, as their bodies are often unable to regulate temperature as efficiently as other adults. Seat belts, door handles and other mobility issues may pose challenges to those who need assistance to get out of the car.
Finally, do not leave pets in a vehicle unattended. They too, are unable to regulate their body temperature and can perish quickly.
For more information visit: www.hchealth.org.