Safe Kids Worldwide (Safe Kids) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have teamed up again this year to make July 31, 2018 National Heatstroke Prevention Day. This nationally recognized day is meant to bring awareness to the dangers of leaving children, pets and adults in hot cars.
Medically defined as “hyperthermia,” heatstroke is a particular danger to children because their bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults. Children injured due to heatstroke in hot cars suffer ailments including permanent brain injury, blindness and the loss of hearing. Often heatstroke deaths and injuries occur when a child gets into an unlocked vehicle to play without a parent’s knowledge. Other incidents can occur when a parent or caregiver who is not used to transporting a child as part of their daily routine inadvertently forgets a sleeping infant in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle.
This campaign’s efforts and its purpose for having this nationally recognized day are significant because education and awareness is the key to make sure parents and caregivers avoid distractions while transporting children on hot days so that tragic loss of life can be avoided.
Heatstroke Prevention Safety Tips
NHTSA, Safe Kids and their safety partners are urging parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the car seat;
- Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area;
- Store keys out of a child’s reach.
In addition, NHTSA and Safe Kids urge community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled in an effort to prevent serious injuries or death.