COLUMBIA, S.C. — As we approach the hottest months of the year, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control wants to remind the public of the dangers of pediatric vehicular heat stroke, commonly referred to as “hot car deaths.”
Heatstroke can occur throughout the year as temperatures inside a vehicle can reach life threatening levels even on mild or cloudy days. Children are particularly vulnerable to hot car deaths as their bodies’ ability to maintain internal body temperatures are not as efficient as an adult’s and their body temperature warms at a rate of 3 or 5 times faster than adults (noheatstroke.org).
South Carolina has had 22 deaths in hot cars since 1998. Last year was particularly deadly with three hot car deaths in our state. The average date of the first death of the year is March 24. These deaths are 100 percent preventable and, according to the National Safety Council, generally the result of three primary circumstances: A caregiver forgetting a child in a vehicle, a child gaining access to the vehicle and someone knowingly leaving a child in a vehicle.
“A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes, and cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Kevin Poore, Safe Kids South Carolina Director. “Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t want to see this happen to any family, or any child. That’s why DHEC is asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”
To cut down the number of deaths and near misses, 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 into it on their own.
|• C: Create reminders. 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. 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 preventing child heatstroke deaths, please visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.