Don’t Let Spring Fever Turn into Heat Stroke

Spring is here, temperatures are starting to rise, and families are venturing out and enjoying the lovely weather, but one busy day of running errands can lead to a tragedy if you forget to take your child out of the vehicle.

Every year, an average of 38 children die from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle. Temperatures can rise quickly inside of a closed vehicle, but leaving windows opened slightly does little to curb the temperature rise.  According to a study by Catherine McLaren MD, Jan Null and James Quinn MD, it only takes 5 minutes for temperatures to reach close to 100°F on a warm day. Within 15-30 minutes, temperatures can be well over 130°F.

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Annual vehicle-related hyperthermia fatalities in children.

Most fatalities are due to a child being forgotten by the caregiver, 53%, with the highest percentage occuring in children under 1 year.

Sisters of Invention have designed an alarm system that parents can attach to any carseat for an infant , toddler or booster seat to prevent accidentally leaving your child in the vehicle. The alarm system is linked to a HALO key fob monitor, which activates the alarm whenever you exist the vehicle without removing the your child. Another system in the works is Aneiros. They have started a campaign to raise funding for an alarm that is integrated into a vehicle’s entire system, allowing an alarm to respond when you leave the vehicle while your child is still in his/her carseat, as well as initiating the cooling system whenver a child is left unattended in the vehicle.

Like most parents, you may think this could never happen to you, but evidence suggest that this can happen to anyone. Fatalities are not linked to socioeconomics, education, or ethnicity. Best strategy is to implement a safety routine:

  • NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE, NOT FOR ONE MINUTE!
  • IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE ON A WARM DAY CALL 911
  • ALLOWS LOCK YOUR CAR AND TEACH YOUR KIDS THAT THE CAR IS NOT A PLAY AREA and MAKE SURE CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO KEYS
  • Try placing an item in the front seat that will remind you to “look before you leave” in the backseat of the car. A stuffed animal, baby bottle, or anything item that will be a reminder when you place your child in the carseat.
  • Make sure all childcare providers follow the same guidelines
  • If you can, install an alarm system that will alert you when you leave the vehicle without removing your child