As the weather warms up, parents and caretakers need to pay extra attention to protect children from accidental heatstroke in cars.
People should never leave a child in a vehicle – even for a minute – to prevent unintended injury or even death.
Jade Elliott spoke with Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, to discuss how to keep your children safe.
“Even if it’s not that warm outside, the insides of cars heat up quickly and can present a serious hazard for children,” said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “Everyone must remain vigilant to never leave a child alone in a car for any amount of time to prevent a tragedy.”
About 40 children across the country die each year after being left in a hot vehicle, Strong said.
In Utah, 13 children have died in hot vehicles since 1990, and others have suffered injuries in “close calls.”
Yet 2020 was one of the lowest years for heat stroke deaths in recent memory, at 25 deaths nationwide. In Utah, no hot car deaths were reported.
“My speculation is that with fewer people driving, and more parents working from home, there were fewer opportunities to leave children in cars, resulting in fewer deaths,” Strong said. “My hope, though, is that this decrease is the start of a trend in the right direction, which will continue until the number of deaths reaches zero.”
Strong says accidental heat stroke tragedies can happen to anyone, and often occur when caretakers forget a child is in the car.
Stress, fatigue, and change of routine can push a person’s brain into autopilot, making it easier to forget. Summer time can present more risk of injury due to hot weather and changes in routine, including children out of school and families staying up late for activities.
Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is offering these tips to help caretakers remember that a child is inside a vehicle to prevent unintentional injuries:
– Never leave your child alone in a vehicle – even for a few minutes. A child’s body temperature can increase 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Cracking a window has very little effect on the temperature inside the car.
- Always check your vehicle before leaving it.
- Keep a visual reminder that a child is with you, like a stuffed animal or diaper bag in the seat next to you.
- Place something you’ll need when you arrive at your destination, like your briefcase, backpack, purse or cell phone, in the back seat. That way, when you reach for the item, you’ll likely see the child.
- If you see a child left alone in a car, contact the police or call 911.
For more information, visit primarychildrens.org/safety.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.