Child Heat Stroke Deaths on the Rise


AAA warns vehicle owners about the dangers of hot cars

BOISE –– As temperatures start to climb in many parts of the country, AAA reminds drivers to do their part to prevent child heatstroke.

On average, 38 children have died from heatstroke each year since 1998.  But the number of deaths is on the rise, increasing to 43 in 2017 and 52 in 2018.  Last year, a child died every seven days from being left in a hot car.  AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration call for an end to this disturbing trend.

“Vehicle owners need to change their thinking about dangerous heat,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “It all starts with getting the facts.  A child’s body temperature rises at a rate that’s three to five times faster than an adult’s, and a car interior can heat up by 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes, even with the windows partially down, and even in shaded areas.”

Because heat fatalities can occur when the air temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and documented incidents of heatstroke have occurred in outside air temperatures as low as 57 degrees, it’s a good idea for drivers to build heatstroke prevention into their routines now.

Here are some tips to beat the heat and keep kids safe:

  • Be a good friend.  Discuss the dangers with friends and family members who have kids.
  • Spot the signs.  Red skin, headaches, nausea, and a lack of sweating even though it’s hot all point to heatstroke.  People with these symptoms need medical attention right away.
  • Lock it up.  Never allow children to play in or near a parked vehicle, including the trunk.  Always keep the car locked and the keys out of reach.
  • Take prompt action.  If you see a person or a pet at risk, call 911 right away to report the emergency and to receive further instructions.
  • Leave a reminder.  In more than half of cases, the child was forgotten by the caregiver.  If you’re driving with a child, leave your purse or wallet in the back seat to help you remember to look for children before you lock up.

“There’s no such thing as a quick errand, so please take children with you into the building – no exceptions,” Conde said.  “The inconvenience isn’t worth taking a chance with your child’s safety.”

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