EAST GREENWICH — The East Greenwich Fire Department recently joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in an effort to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke in young children, driving home the point of the dangers for children being seriously injured or even dying from being left alone inside a hot car also rise along with the summertime temperatures.
“More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and more than 30 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own,” said EGFD Deputy Chief Russell McGillivray in a press release. “In an effort to prevent these needless tragedies, we want to urge all parents and caregivers to do three things: never leave a child in a vehicle unattended, make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car and always lock the car and put the keys out of reach. And, if you ever see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 right away.”
According to the NHTSA as stated in the release, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under. On average, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle.
The EGFD notes that warning signs of heatstroke include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea, confusion or acting strangely. The Fire Department urges that if a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly (not an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose) and then call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
“Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees,” said McGillivray “On an 80 degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.”
Both the NHTSA and the East Greenwich Fire Department want to remind everyone of a few key safety tips to prevent deadly accidents and to prevent vehicular heatstroke.
The first tip is to never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partly open, or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on. Parents or guardians should also not let children play in an unattended vehicle and also teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
Another tip for adults is to make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
The EGFD and NHTSA also urge adults to take steps to remember not to leave a child in a vehicle, such as writing yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle; placing your purse, briefcase, or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle; keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
Other helpful reminders for parents and guardians are for them to always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk, asking your childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare.
The EGFD also recommends that if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible and cool the child rapidly.