TAMPA, Fla. (July 31, 2017) — Record high temperatures have hit many parts of the country this summer and their devastating effects have too often impacted children. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows the risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles. Hyperthermia (heatstroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of fourteen.
Hyperthermia occurs when a person’s body temperature rises and remains above the normal; 98.6°F. A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s. Children left in hot vehicles can suffer from a variety of symptoms such as dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, elevated heart rate, brain damage and confusion. Ultimately, coma and death may occur.
“Even on a partly sunny day, your vehicle can heat up quickly inside,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and Executive Director of the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “Children should never be left alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.”
Unfortunately, many of these tragedies with children occur because the caregiver simply forgets they are in the back seat. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to driving children or whose routine suddenly changes, being sleep-deprived and distraction. While the majority of deaths are accidental, they are all preventable.
Below are some safety tips to help keep children safe:
- Make it a Habit – Before locking your vehicle, check the front and back seat.
- Set an Alarm – Consider adding an alarm to your phone that will go off to remind you to check your vehicle.
- Caregiver Assistance – If you normally drop your child off at a babysitter or daycare, ask the caregiver to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for childcare.
- Add a Reminder- Put your purse/wallet or cell phone in the back seat. This way you are reminded to look in the back seat before leaving the vehicle.
- Don’t Leave Them Alone – Never leave infants or children unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are open or the air conditioning is running.
- Vehicles Aren’t Play Areas – Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not the right place to play.
- Put Keys Out of Sight – Always lock your vehicle and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
About Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation
Established by AAA – The Auto Club Group in 2010, Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation, Inc. (ACGTSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and public charity dedicated to producing a significant and continuous reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and deaths in the communities targeted by its efforts. ACGTSF provides programs, education and outreach to increase public awareness about the importance of traffic safety and improve driving behavior. ACGTSF is funded by voluntary, tax-deductible contributions from organizations and individuals who support ACGTSF’s purpose. Visit www.AAA.com/foundation for more information.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 57 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
National Heatstroke Prevention Day was July 31.