It can only be imagined that a parent’s worst nightmare would be the tragedy of losing their child to something that is completely preventable and that they may have accidentally caused the death. With the warmer weather comes the increased risk of children suffering heat stroke or dying from overheating in a car.

Did you know that a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s? It only takes a few short minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated. In just 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can increase by 19 degrees – and it continues to rise. Leaving the windows cracked doesn’t slow the heating process or decrease the highest temperature reached inside in the vehicle, according to a study by the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences.

This type of death can be prevented. Do everything you can to make sure that it will not happen to you or someone you love. Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open. In fact, sunshine coming through car windows makes the car work like an oven.

Routines and distractions have caused people to mistakenly leave children behind in cars. To help prevent this, place a cell phone, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car, on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings. Set your cell phone reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care. Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?” Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care.

Teach children not to play in any vehicle. Lock all vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has left the vehicle – especially at home. Keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are not playgrounds or babysitters. Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child goes missing!

Make it a point to never leave your child alone in a car, even for one minute. It seems like an innocent act to leave a child in a back seat while you make a quick run into a store to pick up a few things; however, this is dangerous because it only takes a few minutes to put your child at risk.

The Perry County Health Department reminds you to keep your loved ones safe this summer. Make it a habit to check the back seat every time you exit and remember to Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information about any program or service that is offered by the Perry County Health Department, contact us at 342-5179 or visit us online at www.perryhealth.com Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @perryheal.

Source: Safe Kids Worldwide, Ohio Department of Health

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