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Safe Kids Washoe County warns of heat stroke in children

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safekidswashoecounty-300x100-6204325-7771597SAFE KIDS NEWS — As temperatures rise, 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.

Although summer hasn’t officially arrived, seven children across the county have died of heat stroke after being left in vehicles already this year. Six of them died in a 16-day period in May.

Since 1998, more than 550 children 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.” Here is a breakdown of these deaths:
• 52% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
• 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle
• 18% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
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. Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere.”

Although most would assume this would never happen to them, there is no common description of the caregiver that has experienced this tragedy. It has happened to the rich and poor, educated and less educated, women and men, city dwellers and suburbanites, and in all but one state.

What is heatstroke:
• Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.
• It occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels.
• Young children are particularly at risk as their body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
• When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
• Because of this, and because cars heat up so quickly – 19 degrees in 10 minutes – tragedies can happen faster than you think.
• Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death.
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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