Parents and Caregivers Warned about Dangers of Heatstroke as Summer Approaches

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Local agencies urge parents and caregivers to look before they lock their car and walk away to avoid leaving children in hot vehicles.

IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency joined the El Centro Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol this morning to warn local residents about the dangers of heatstroke. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. That’s why local agencies have joined efforts to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Christopher Herring, Imperial County EMS Manager. “What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.”

Imperial County EMS, the El Centro Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol urges all parents and caregivers to do these three things:

  • NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended even if the engine is running and the air conditioner is turned on;
  • Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car;
  • ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Parents can also download the Baby Reminder App or the Child Safe App and should know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose, NEVER an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Four years ago, NHTSA launched a public education campaign, “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock,” in the hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache. In Imperial County, local agencies will be sharing posters with local pediatricians and healthcare providers to promote the campaign. In addition, sun shades for vehicles with the’ Look Before You Lock’ message will be available to parents in the community.

“More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own without the parents knowing where they are,” said Cedric Cesena, El Centro Fire Department Battalion Chief. “We want to get the word out to parents and caregivers, please look before you lock.”

Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. According to the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science, at San Jose University, in 2015 the total number of heatstroke deaths of children left in vehicles in the United States was twenty-four and so far in 2016 there have been six deaths. The average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998 is 37.

To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look before you Lock.” campaign, visit www.SaferCar.gov/heatstroke. Additional summer safety tips and fact sheets are available on the Imperial County Public Health Department’s Website: http://www.icphd.com/health-information-and-resources/health-&- wellness/summer-safety/