Info credit SafeKids Worldwide
Between 1998 and 2010, 494 children died of heat stroke when they were unattended in a vehicle. Texas leads the nation with 71 of those deaths. In 2010, we had our worst year yet as forty-nine unattended children died across the U.S. Sadly, the average number of deaths is 38 per year and we far surpassed that. This year, there have been 22 deaths with 5 of those in Texas.
Deaths typically occur in one of three ways:
- the child was left behind as a distracted caregiver arrived at the destination and then forgot there was a child in the back seat;
- the unattended child or children gained access to an unlocked car or trunk and were overcome by heat; or,
- the caregiver knowingly left the child in the vehicle while they took care of an errand or visited with a friend. In any instance, the unattended child was exposed to extreme heat and died.
Hyperthermia or heat stroke can occur even on mild days. In the first two cases of 2010, Florida and California children died when the temperature outside was 73 and 72 degrees respectively. A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s and they are at great risk in vehicles where the windows allow sunlight to penetrate objects that retain then radiate heat in the vehicle. Vehicles are often warmer inside than the temperature outside. In any case, our message to caregivers is to NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE IN A CAR- even for one minute. Cracking a window provides little to no relief.
Don't forget about your pets too, same thing applies for them too, do NOT leave them in the car!!