Never leave a child alone in a vehicle
WACO, Texas – (May 19, 2012) The KidSafe Program at Hillcrest would like to remind you to never leave a child alone in a vehicle, even for just a few minutes. Every year children die of hyperthermia because they were left unattended in a hot car. In 2010, there was a 67% increase in the number of hyperthermia deaths from children being left in vehicles. 38% of these deaths occurred in Texas. The average age of hyperthermia death victims in Texas was 19 months old. This data appears to vastly underestimate the true magnitude of the problem, as the CDC estimates over 9100 non-traffic/non-crash incidents are seen in hospital emergency rooms annually.
In 2011, hyperthermia deaths were down Nationwide however 33 children still died which is completely unacceptable. Texas continues to lead the nation in hyperthermia-related deaths. Leaving a child in a vehicle for a “quick” errand can have deadly consequences. Heat is much more dangerous to children than adults. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase 3-5 times faster than an adult. This rise in core body temperature can cause permanent injury or death. For example, on days when the temperature exceeds 86 degrees, the inside temperature of a vehicle quickly reaches 134+ degrees within minutes.
An examination of media reports about the 494 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths for a thirteen year period (1998 through 2011) shows the following circumstances occurred:
· 51% - child "forgotten" by caregiver (253 Children)
· 30% - child playing in unattended vehicle (150)
· 17% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (86)
· 1% - circumstances unknown (5)
Helpful Tips and Reminders:
- NEVER leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows slightly open.
- If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, call 911 immediately. There is no way to determine by looking at the child how long they have been in the vehicle unattended, what their physical state is, and how their body is being affected by the heat.
- Teach children not to play in, on, or around vehicles.
- Always lock a vehicle’s doors and trunk- especially at home. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children’s reach.
- Watch children closely around vehicles, particularly when loading and unloading. Check to ensure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination. Do not overlook sleeping infants.
- Be especially careful if you are dropping off infants or children at day care and that is not a part of your normal routine.
- Distractions and a break in normal routines have led to parents and caregivers forgetting children in vehicles. If you change your routine the following tips will help remind you to “CHECK THE BACK”:
- Place cell phone, purse, briefcase or something that is needed for your next stop on the floor in front of a child in the backseat.
- Set a cell phone alarm for a reminder to drop your child(ren) off at day care.
- Set your computer to send a reminder asking “Did you drop your child at daycare?”
- Have the daycare call you if you have not dropped your child off by a specific time.