Heatstroke in cars is riskier for young children

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Children are at more risk of heatstroke or death because their body temperatures rise up to five times faster than adults, even on cooler days in the summer.

This is why the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Drive To Zero Coalition and emergency responders remind parents and caregivers to never leave a child in a car.

Children suffer heatstroke in cars primarily from three preventable actions. “First, don’t forget you have a child in the back seat of a car,” said KDOT Behavioral Safety Manager Gary Herman. “Next, don’t leave a car unlocked even at home, where children may wander off and gain access to that car. And don’t knowingly leave a child in a car, thinking a cracked window or quick stop will be OK.”

This safety information will be shared with the public from July 8-21 to increase awareness of the dangers excessive heat can have on children. SAFE KIDS reports on average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. In over half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car. A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, and cracking a window doesn’t help.

The National Safety Council stated there were five child heatstroke deaths in vehicles in Kansas from 2019-2023. These children were aged 2 and under. One of these deaths occurred when the outside temperature was reported at 59 degrees.

Anyone transporting a child should develop habits to avoid forgetting a child:

  • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.

  • Place and secure your phone, purse, laptop, bag, etc., in the back seat when traveling with your child.

If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:

  • Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents. If someone is with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.

Learn more about protecting kids from heatstroke by visiting https://www.safekids.org/heatstroke and https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/safety-topics/child-safety/vehicular-heatstroke-prevention

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