ACT to prevent heatstroke deaths in cars

ACT now to prevent heatstroke related deaths in cars – What you can do.

Hot summer days across the country have contributed to more than 16 child deaths so far this year from heatstroke when children were alone in vehicles. Safe Kids Pima County reminds caregivers to never leave children alone in cars, and if you see a child alone in a car, call 911 first and then act to get the child out of the car. Governor Doug Ducey recently signed into law a Good Samaritan bill that eliminates the liability of those who break car windows to rescue children or animals left in hot cars.

“Under House Bill 2494, an individual who enters an unattended motor vehicle to remove a child or domestic animal would be protected from civil liability if a good faith belief exists that the child or pet is in imminent danger of injury or death. The legislation also requires the person to notify law enforcement or emergency medical personnel before entering the vehicle and to stay with the child or pet until authorities arrive.”

Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. It occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. Since 1998, more than 700 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle.

“A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County. “Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t want to see this happen to any family. That’s why Safe Kids is asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”

Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death

Never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders

Put something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

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.

Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death. For more information on heatstroke see this earlier blog post.

The Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car program is made possible through a grant from General Motors. For more information on preventing child heatstroke deaths, please visit www.noheatstroke.org  and www.safekids.org/heatstroke

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