The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) deputy director, along with child safety advocates and health professionals held a town hall meeting in Tampa, Friday, September 23, to address the national emergency of children being left in hot cars to die.
So far this year at least 27 children have died this summer. They were left in a car unattended while their parent or child care provider simply forgot they were there.
Hyperthermia and Cars
A child or anyone will die very quickly of heat stroke or hyperthermia from this totally preventable tragedy. Hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash deaths for children under the age of 14 in vehicles. Since the body temperature of a child can rise three to five times more quickly than an adult, those children who do survive may experience brain damage, organ failure or permanent blindness.
Deputy Administrator Ronald Medford reminded the town hall gathering that an absence of attention directed toward children sitting I the back of cars crosses all social, economic and racial boundaries. He urged people remain vigilant even as we go into the fall months because the temperatures inside a vehicle can remain very high.
NHTSA’s Fact Sheet reminds us that an adult can forget there is a child in the back when they break a well-established routine. If a father does not normally take care of the children, for example, he may forget the child is there.
Even just running inside a store is unacceptable. A cool temperature in the 60s can rise to above 110 Fahrenheit inside the car and an inside temperature can rise 20 degrees in ten minutes.
Children also can climb inside unattended vehicles and become locked inside with no way out.
Parents need to put the child’s toy in the front seat to remind them the child is in the vehicle. And for pedestrians, if you see a child in a hot vehicle, call the police and if they are crying, are red and hot and are in distress, get them out as soon as possible, breaking the glass if necessary.
Call 9-1-1- or an emergency number immediately. It’s better to replace some broken glass than take a chance.