"Beat the Heat, Check the Backseat!"

One of the biggest weather related risks during the summer months is the possibility of a child dying in a vehicle from heat stroke. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, and 50 degrees in an hour.  This can cause hyperthermia (heat stroke) in literally a matter of minutes, particularly in children, whose body temperatures warm at a rate 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.
 
As of June 2012, 533 children have died nationwide from heat stroke suffered while in a vehicle (33 deaths in 2011) since 1998.  Half of these were children that were forgotten by a parent or other caregiver, and nearly 20 percent died when parents knowingly left their child in a vehicle. The rest died when they were playing in an unattended vehicle.   Between 1998 and 2011, 5 occurred in Iowa, 4 in Minnesota, and 7 in Wisconsin. This year alone, 6 children have already died nationwide from heat stroke while in a vehicle as of June 27, 2012.
 
All of these tragic deaths are preventable. To help bring awareness to this issue, the NWS is using the slogan “Beat the Heat...Check the Backseat” to remind people to be sure they remember small children who may be in a car seat, and to never leave children unattended in a vehicle, even for a few moments.
 
Some basic safety recommendations:
  • NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE.  NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE!
  • IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A HOT VEHICLE CALL 9-1-1.
  • Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
  • Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.  If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.  IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE CAR FIRST!
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.
  • Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
  • Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
  • Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
Remember that pets should also never be left in a vehicle during the summer months.

Much of the information on this page is based on research by Jan Null, Certified Consulting Meteorologist. You can find his research and information at: http://ggweather.com/heat/index.htm

Page courtesy of WFO Jackson, MS


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