November 21, 2014

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Prevent child heatstroke deaths in vehicles

Parents and caregivers are urged to take steps to remember not to leave children alone in vehicles. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration review of child hyperthermia cases noted that a majority of the fatalities occurred due to a change in the driver’s regular, everyday routine.

Three children have died as a result of vehicular heat stroke so far this year, as of May 31, according to information gathered by KidsAndCars.org. Last year, 33 children died, and 49 died in 2010.

Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, and are at greater risk for heatstroke.

Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. So, if you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it won’t be long before they are playing in it. High temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly, resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.

Use the following tips to avoid vehicular heat stroke

  •   Teach children not to play in or around cars. Teach them that vehicle trunks are for cargo, not for playing. Explain how dangerous a vehicle’s trunk can be.
  •  Always supervise your children carefully when in and around vehicles, and check the trunk right away if your child is missing.
  •  As of 2001, auto manufacturers were required to equip all new vehicle trunks with a glow in the dark trunk release inside the trunk compartment. Show your kids how to use the release in case of an emergency.
  •  Make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front to back—before walking away.
  •   Never leave infants or young children unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are partly open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
  •  If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
  •  Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
  •   Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle or placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle.
  •  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.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Vulnerable users of Vermont roads include pedestrians, bicycle riders, operators of road repair equipment and wheelchair users. When passing vulnerable users, drivers must exercise due care and increase clearance distance. Drivers must not pass too close to a vulnerable user and no occupant may throw any object or substance at a vulnerable user.

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