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Safe Kids Washoe County warns of heat stroke in children



As temperatures rise this summer, Safe Kids Washoe County is working to increase awareness and urge caregivers to never leave children alone in a vehicle with its “Not Even For A Minute” campaign that points out that even one minute is too long to leave a child unattended in an automobile. Since 1998, more than 520 children (33 in 2011) have died in the U.S. from heat stroke after being left in or becoming trapped in a vehicle. In half of the cases, these children are simply “forgotten” by a distracted driver when they arrive at their destination. Other heat stroke fatalities occurred when a child was playing in an unattended vehicle and became trapped, or when a child was intentionally left unattended by an adult “for just a few minutes.”

A child is susceptible to heat stroke and even death on a 72-degree day with the temperature inside a car rising 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Heat stroke happens when the body cannot cool itself fast enough and the core temperature rises to dangerous levels.

“A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and unattended children have no way of protecting themselves in a hot vehicle” says Melissa Krall, Safe Kids Washoe County coordinator. “The overall goal of our Not Even For A Minute campaign is to make sure people are aware of the dangers in and around vehicles. We want parents and caregivers to take precautions so that this tragedy does not happen to them.”

Of the 520 children that have died, 30 percent were left unattended by an adult, and gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, becaming trapped and overcome by heat. It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car. Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children.

Safe Kids Washoe County urges all adults who transport children to take the following steps:

  • Call 911 if you see a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Never leave children alone in a car – even for one minute.
  • Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask you, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in a back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child.
  • Have a plan with your child care provider to call you if your child does not arrive when expected.
  • Keep keys and remote entry key fobs out of children’s reach.
  • Lock all vehicles at all times.
  • Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.

For more information on preventing heat stroke deaths, please call Safe Kids Washoe County at 858-5700 or visit www.safekidswc.com or www.safekids.org/nlyca.

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