Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. That’s why the Huron County Prosecutor’s Office has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars. In 2015 there were 24 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles.
In addition, pets are suffering as well. Many pet owners who take their dog out for a ride have left the dog in the car with the resulting tragedy of the dog’s death.
“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Huron County Prosecutor Tim Rutkowski. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle, but what is most tragic is that these deaths could have been prevented.“
Know the Warning Signs
Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, quickly spray the child with cool water or with a garden hose – NEVER an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
Time For Action
July 31st is National Heatstroke Prevention Day, but we need to take action on every day of the year. The Huron County Prosecutor’s Office urges all parents and caregivers to do these three things:
- NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended;
- Make it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car;
- ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach. And, if you ever see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 right
If you are a bystander and see a child unattended:
- Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911
- If the child appears ok, attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA
- If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the
- If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a
Look Before You Lock
“59 percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own,” said Prosecutor Rutkowski. “We want to get the word out to parents and caregivers, please look before you lock.”
No matter your status, be it as a caregiver or a bystander, you can make a difference. You can be a lifesaver. If you see a child or a pet in a car, take the time to act.