June 17, 2014

Four simple tips for avoiding child heat stroke

These four tips could keep your children safe this summer.

With temperatures rising in Middle Tennessee, safety experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt want to stress the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles. Last year, there were at least 44 deaths of children left in hot vehicles. So far in 2014, there have been at least 11 deaths in the United States.

According to physicians at Children’s Hospital, a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and when the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs begin to shut down. Children are placed at extreme risk for severe hypothermia and heat stroke in just minutes.

“[rquote]In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can heat up by 19 degrees and continue to rise[/rquote],” said Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program manager.

A new study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that 14 percent of parents say they have left a child alone inside a parked vehicle despite the risk of heatstroke. For parents of children 3 and under, the percentage increases to 23 percent.

Children’s Hospital offers the following tips to avoid vehicle-related heat injuries or death:

  • Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute
  • Use cell phone or computer reminders to make sure children have been dropped off at the desired location.
  • Place an item that you always take from the car into your destination in the backseat with your child.
  • If your child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.

Teach your children never to play in vehicles in order to prevent them from accidentally locking themselves inside one. Be sure to lock all doors and windows to vehicles on your property.

Community members who see a child left alone in a hot vehicle should immediately take action and call 911.

Please visit the Children’s Hospital’s website for detailed safety information.