The Hamilton County Sheriff's office issued the following safety advisory:
Every year, children die of hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke, while unattended in vehicles. The average number of child vehicular heat stroke deaths in the U.S. is 37 each year, according to KidsandCars.org. That’s 37 too many.
It can happen to anyone. The fact is that heat stroke fatalities happen to loving, caring, attentive parents and caregivers. The majority of these tragedies happen when a child is mistakenly left behind in a vehicle or when a child gains access to a vehicle. A change in normal daily routine, lack of sleep and distractions are all contributing factors.
Younger children are at a higher risk of being left in vehicles. Fifty-four percent of heat stroke deaths in vehicles involve children age one and younger (www.KidsAndCars.org). One factor may be that rear-facing car seats do not look any different to the driver when occupied or empty. Often, young children and infants sleep during travel and are, therefore, quiet which can lead the driver to forget the child is in the car.
A child’s body temperature climbs 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. Infants and young children haven’t fully developed the internal systems required to regulate body temperature. Their small bodies aren’t as capable of cooling down so they absorb more heat than adults. If a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child will die.
The inside of a vehicle heats up very quickly. Children have died from heat stroke in vehicles when the outside temperature was a mild 60 degrees. Even on a seemingly mild day, temperatures inside a car can rise nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after only 30 minutes, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After 60 minutes, it can reach 113 degrees. When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly climb to between 130 degrees to 172 degrees.
Education is key to the prevention of vehicular heat stroke. “Look Before You Lock:*”
- Never leave children alone in or around cars.
- Create a reminder to check the back seat such as placing your purse, cell phone, employee ID badge in the back seat.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in your garage to prevent children from playing in vehicles.
- Be especially aware during busy times or changes in schedule.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has created a yellow “Look Before You Lock “ inside removable door decal that can be placed on the inside of the driver door to remind parents and caregivers to check on their children as they exit the vehicle. Our free decals are available at our West and East Patrol Annexes, 8395 Hickory Valley Road and 6233 Dayton Blvd.
Safe Journey is a program funded through the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.