Hot Weather Alert: Georgians Urged to Use Caution
Safety is NO Accident: ACTION Can Save Children Left in Cars
As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children being seriously injured or even dying from being alone inside a hot car increases. In 2011, at least 33 children under the age of 4 nationwide, including three children in Georgia, died from heatstroke after being left in cars. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has joined Safe Kids Georgia and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in an effort to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke in young children.
"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," said Seema Csukas, M.D., Ph. D., interim director of DPH's Maternal and Child Health Program. "More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and an estimated 30 percent are from a child getting into a vehicle of their own."
According to NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children age 14 and under. In fact, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days, from being left in a hot vehicle. Warning signs of heatstroke 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, not with an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Important Safety Tips for All Adults
Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partly open, or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
Don't let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
Make a habit of looking in the vehicle--front and back--before locking the door and walking away.
- Always lock vehicle doors and trunks, and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
- Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child doesn't arrive as planned for childcare. Make it a habit to call your provider every time your child will be absent.
- If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose, not with an ice bath.
- Write yourself a note and place it where you'll see it when you leave the vehicle.
- Place your purse, briefcase, or something else you're sure to need in the back seat so you'll be sure to see a child left in the vehicle.
- Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
- To learn more about how to keep your child safe and how you can help raise awareness about heat-related injuries for children visit: http://www.safekids.org/nlyca and www.ggweather.com/heat.
About the Georgia Department of Public Health
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisons, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia's 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant -- to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, DPH's main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information about DPH, visit www.health.state.ga.us.