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No Child Left Behind: Facts about Hot Cars and Heatstroke

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No Child Left Behind: Facts about Hot Cars and Heatstroke

A child left in a hot car—or who gets into an unlocked vehicle unnoticed—can die of heatstroke very quickly. Each year, dozens of U.S. children lose their lives this way. But these tragedies can be prevented.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths in children under 15 years of age. Heatstroke happens when the body is not able to cool itself quickly enough.

What makes leaving a child in a car so dangerous?

  • A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult body heats up.
    • When left in a hot car, a child’s major organs begin to shut down when his temperature reaches 104 degrees.
    • A child can die when his temperature reaches 107 degrees.
  • Cars heat up quickly! In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 19 degrees.
  • Cracking a window does little to keep the vehicle cool.
  • Heatstroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.

Things You Can Do To Prevent the Unthinkable

  • Always check the back seat and make sure all children are out of the car before locking it and walking away.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, especially cell phone use.
  • Be extra alert when there is a change in your routine.
  • Have your child care provider call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.
  • Keep your car locked when it is parked to prevent a curious child from entering when no one is around.
  • Keep rear fold-down seats closed to prevent a child from crawling into the truck from inside the car.

Take Action if You See a Child Alone in a Car

If you see an unattended child in a car and are concerned, you should immediately call 911. If the child is not responsive or in pain, immediately:

  • Call 911
  • Get the child out of the car
  • Spray the child with cool water

If the child is responsive, stay with the child until help arrives and have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.

As temperatures soar, it is important to remember that most children left in hot cars are done unintentionally. For more information regarding the prevention of car-related heat-related injury in children, go to powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Myrtue Medical Center’s Department of Public Health encourages you to take preventative measures to protect children from heatstroke. Please call 712.755.4423 for additional information on child safety measures.