From Arkansas Children’s Hospital
As temperatures in Arkansas continue to rise, it is difficult to imagine that any parent could ever leave their child alone in a vehicle, but it happens and it’s often fatal. Though no deaths have been reported in Arkansas so far, 15 children have died across the U.S. after being left in hot cars this summer, according to information from the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) has tips for parents to stop this tragedy before it starts. Armed with information from the Injury Prevention Center at ACH, families can keep themselves accountable and their children safe over the coming weeks.
Though parents may think prior air-conditioning will help to keep their car cool after they exit, they should know that within five minutes on a 90-degree day, the temperature within a vehicle reaches that of the outdoors, and for every nine minutes the interior temperature increases 15 degrees. Heat enters the vehicle through windows, causing objects within the car to heat up and convection works to trap the heat inside.
Infants and toddlers are at highest risk if left in a vehicle, and adolescents also suffer from heat injuries. If an infant or toddler is left inside a vehicle and their core temperature reaches 104 degrees, heat exhaustion displayed by dehydration will lead to intense thirst, weakness, dizziness and headache that could cause brain damage. If the child’s core temperature reaches 107 degrees, convulsions, brain damage and death can occur.
To ensure your child’s safety, always check your vehicle for children before you leave, and if parents find themselves in this scenario, "ACT." Before locking the vehicle and leaving it, families must avoid forgetting the child, create reminders and take action, according to the National Highway Traffics Safety Administration and Safe Kids Worldwide campaigns.
A — Avoid this event by never leaving a child alone in a vehicle for any amount of time. When the vehicle is unattended, lock the doors so that children cannot enter.
C — Create reminders. Place a purse, briefcase or phone near the child’s car seat to ensure that you will look before leaving your vehicle. Parents or grandparents can also place a stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it is not in use and place the stuffed animal in the passenger seat when the child is riding with them. This will remind adults to check for the child. Be certain of a child’s location at all times, and plan ahead with caregivers to call and inform you of whether he or she is present.
T — Take action if you see a child left in a vehicle. Call 911 immediately, and if possible, rescue the child from the vehicle after receiving emergency instructions.
"Never leave your child alone in a car," said Holly Terry of the ACH Injury Prevention Center. "Slow down and think about your reminders; this type of death is completely preventable."
Arkansas Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21.
For more information about the private, nonprofit health-care facility visit www.archildrens.org.