Parents and Caregivers are warned about the dangers of heatstroke


overheated child

IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency joined the El Centro Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol Friday 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, EMS Manager. One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle, but 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 urge all parents and caregivers to do these three things:

  1. NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended even if the engine is running and the air conditioner is turned on; 

  2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car;

  3. ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Parents can also download the Baby Reminder 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.

“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 Ceseña, Battalion Chief for El Centro Fire. “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.

On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

According to NHTSA, data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show a disturbing trend. At least 44 children in the United States lost their lives in 2013 after being left in unattended motor vehicles.

The average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998 is 38. According to NHTSA there have already been two such deaths reported this year in the United States.

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Additional summer safety tips and fact sheets are available on the Imperial County Public Health Department’s Website: