Children & The Heat

 

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- even when outside air temperatures are in the 70's!  The inside of a car acts like a greenhouse, where actual temperatures inside the vehicle can reach 120°F in minutes and approach 150°F in as little as an hour!  This can cause hyperthermia (heat stroke) in only minutes, particularly in children, whose body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult.  Studies have shown that "cracking the windows" provides little (if any) relief.

Since 1998 at least 532 children have died nationwide from being left in a hot car.  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 playing in an unattended vehicle. 

All of these tragic deaths are preventable!  To help bring awareness to this issue, the National Weather Service is using the slogan "Beat the Heat, Check the Backseat" to remind people to remember to check for small children in a car seat and to never leave children unattended in a vehicle- even for a few moments.  Remember that pets should also never be left in a vehicle during the summer months.

U.S. Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles through 1998-2012. Chart shows 29-49 deaths per years with no clear upward or downward trend over time.

 Courtesy of San Francisco State University. Use of this graph does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by San Francisco State University.

 

Safety Tips for Concerning Children

  • Make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
  • Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
  • Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever

Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults.  Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.

For more information concerning heat go to http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml

For more information concerning heat and the affects on children, please see the following websites:

Parents Central - From Car Seats to Car Keys:  http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heatstroke.htm

Safe Kids Worldwide:  http://www.safekids.org/heatstroke

If you have more questions concerning heat and the safety measures one can take, please contact your County Emergency Manager or Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp.

 

 



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