The following letter to the editor was submitted by Beth Barnes, Community Outreach Specialist with North Country Hospital:
Kids Left in Cars Can Have Serious Consequences
Summer is here and with hot weather comes the possibility of heatstroke. Young children are especially at risk from the dangers of heatstroke because their small bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body. Babies and young kids can sometimes sleep so peacefully and quietly in their car seat or strapped into the backseat of a car that we can forget that they’re even there. Forgetting, or letting a child sleep in the car can have catastrophic consequences.
Did you know that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children? Every ten days, on average, a child dies from heatstroke when left in a car. When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the inside temperature of a car can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down 2 inches.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Safe Kids Worldwide and North Country Hospital are urging parents, grandparents 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 doors 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 there’s a child in your vehicle like placing a purse, briefcase or cell phone in the back seat so the child will be seen when you reach for the item(s).
Teach children not to play in or near cars and keep keys away from them at all times. Car trunks are off limits under any and all circumstances.
If you see a child alone in a car call 911 and wait until help arrives.
Beth Barnes, Community Outreach Specialist, North Country Hospital.