Kids, Cars & Heat: 5 Essential Safety Tips for Avoiding Child Heatstroke in CarsAugust 30, 2018
Hyperthermia or pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) is a top cause of death for children younger than 14, killing more than 750 kids since 1998.1 Put another way, about 37 children die from PVH each year, and about every 9 days, another child will needlessly suffer fatal pediatric vehicle heatstroke.
Tragically, all of these losses were – and are – avoidable.
To raise awareness and help parents and caregivers avoid situations that could lead to PVH, the following explains:
- How and why PVH occurs
- What adults can do to prevent situations that could put children at risk of suffering PVH.
How & Why Does Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke Occur?
Heatstroke is the result of the body’s core temperature rising to 104˚, overwhelming the thermoregulatory system. If this temperature continues to rise, reaching 107˚, heatstroke will be deadly.
Vehicles can be particularly risky places when it comes to creating conditions that can result in heatstroke. This is because:
- Within about 10 minutes, the temperature inside of a vehicle can be about 19˚ warmer than the temperature outside of it.
- When it’s hot outside, a vehicle can have a greenhouse effect.
These factors can be exacerbated by the fact that children’s bodies generally heat up about three to five times faster than adults’ bodies.
Consequently, when the temperature outside is:
- 80˚, children left in cars can suffer deadly PVH within 20 minutes
- 90˚, it only takes 10 minutes for kids to suffer fatal PVH.
Here, it’s important to note that more than half of all deadly cases of pediatric vehicular heatstroke involve children being “forgotten” or unintentionally left in cars (due to, for instance, changes in routines). While about 27 percent of deadly PVH cases arise from kids getting into unlocked vehicles on their own, about 18 percent involve parents purposely leaving kids in cars (to avoid waking up a sleeping child or to do something “quickly”).2
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How to Avoid Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke: 5 Important Tips for Adults
To prevent situations that could result in PVH, here’s what caregivers and parents can do:
- Never leave children alone in cars – Kids have suffered deadly PVH at temperatures as low as 60˚ outside. Regardless of the outside temperature, never leave children alone inside of a vehicle.
- Always look before you lock – As you exit your vehicle and before you lock it up, make it a practice to check the backseat of your vehicle.
- Place personal items in the backseat with the child – Put your pursue, jacket, briefcase and/or cellphone in the backseat whenever you are driving a child around. This will force you to go into the backseat when you reach your destination.
- When routines change, set up a reminder system – This can include a “buddy” system (with one person calling or texting someone else as a reminder) or even an alarm on a cellphone (set for the time at which a child is supposed to arrive at some destination).
- Get in the habit of looking in the backseats of parked cars – Whether you are at work, a shopping center or anywhere else, make it a practice to look in the backseats of parked vehicles. If you ever see a child alone in a parked vehicle, report it as soon as possible. If the child appears red, confused or otherwise symptomatic of heatstroke, call 911 immediately.
In addition to PVH, car crashes are another major threat to children’s safety and lives – and like PVH, these accidents could often be avoided if motorists and others were more careful.
If you, your child or someone else you love has been hurt in any type of motor vehicle accident, you can turn to the experienced car accident lawyers at the Amaro Law Firm for help:
- Determining your recovery options
- Pursuing all available legal remedies
- Seeking compensation for your accident-related injuries, suffering and losses.
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A Texas car accident attorney at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to discuss your potential claim, explain your options and help you successfully navigate the road to recovery.
Call (877) 892-2797 or email our firm for a free consultation.
With the Amaro Law Firm on your side, you can count on having tireless, effective advocacy while we work diligently to help you maximize your financial recovery. While money may never undo the damage from auto crashes, recoveries from these cases can be the key to restoring lives.
1: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
2: According to the National Safety Council (NSC)