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Awareness Can Save a Life:
Sadly, heatstroke is a leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for young children. The warning signs of heatstroke can include:
- Hot or red skin (dry or moist)
- No sweating
- Strong, rapid pulse (or slow, weak pulse)
- Confusion or strange behavior
Unfortunately, even the best parents or caregivers can forget a child in the back seat, particularly if their routine suddenly changes or the child falls asleep during the drive.
Regardless of whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or bystander, if you see a child left in a car during the summer, it’s imperative that you act immediately. Children are far more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults; in fact, they can overheat up to five times more quickly than an adult. Children should NEVER be left alone in a car, they can suffer heatstroke even with the windows open, and on overcast days, or days where temperatures don't exceed 75 degrees.
If you notice a child alone in a car, don’t hesitate to get involved; protecting children is everyone’s business, and “Good Samaritan” laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency. Should you see an unattended child in a vehicle, do not wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return. If the child is unresponsive or in distress, immediately call 911 and take whatever steps are necessary to remove the child from the car and gently spray him or her with cool water. If the child is responsive, stay there until help arrives. Ask someone to search for the driver or have the facility page the vehicle's owner.
Constant vigilance and awareness can help parents and caregivers remember when a child is traveling in their car. These great suggestions can help prevent accidental abandonment which could result in severe injury or even fatality:
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento 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.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
- Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat so that you look there before exiting the vehicle.
Remember, heatstroke in a hot car can happen very quickly, in only 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a closed vehicle could potentially reach up to 110 degrees; to offer prospective, a child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees. So, if you see a child in a car, swift action can truly be the difference between life and death.
Safe and happy travels!
Safe and happy travels!