Heatstroke is the No. 1 killer of children, outside of car crashes. That’s why the Park Forest Fire Department has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.
Nationwide in 2014, there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles.
“As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Captain Mike Wheeler of the Park Forest Fire Department.” 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.”
The Park Forest Fire Department urges all parents and caregivers to do these three things:
1. NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
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. And, if you ever see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 right away.
If you are a bystander:
1. Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
2. If the child appears OK, you should attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over a public address system.
3. If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parents while someone waits at the car.
4. If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.
A child’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, with heatstroke possible in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
“Fifty-nine percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths involving children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and 29 percent are from children getting into a hot car on their own,” said Wheeler. “We want to get the word out to parents and caregivers: Please look before you lock.”
For more information about Heatstroke prevention, please visit http://www.safercar.gov/parents/InandAroundtheCar/heatstroke.htm
Remember: In Illinois, children are required to be in a car seat or booster seat until at least age 8 and all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.