2011 Toyota Sienna SE: photo by Todd Allen
On the last day of May, a three-year-old boy in New Orleans died of heat stroke in a car, making him the 500th such death since 1998.
The victim had been left alone in a car all day. Just think about that – left by himself the entire day in a car. He died from heat stroke (or hyperthermia), which occurs when the body’s thermostat overheats. And children, whose bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults, are at a great risk for heat stroke. While we don’t know the specifics of this particular case, it appears as if the child was simply forgotten.
We wish we didn’t have to report such senseless – and totally preventable – tragedies. But the fact is that parents and caregivers are still not getting the message about the dangers of leaving their children alone in a car. SAFE Kids USA reports that an average of 38 child heat stroke deaths occurs each year – and in about half of those cases, the children were just forgotten. Last year alone, 49 children died as a result of heat stroke in a car. The 500th victim is the latest recorded from 1998-2011.
Avoid child heat stroke deaths in cars
FamilyCarGuide has written about this issue before (see the article here), but the precautions certainly bear repeating. SAFE Kids USA and a network of 600 coalitions and chapters earlier this year launched the “Never Leave Your Child Alone in the Car” campaign. The campaign is a key component of SAFE Kids USA’s “Safe Kids Buckle Up” child passenger safety program sponsored by the General Motors Foundation.
According to SAFE Kids USA, know and take action on the following:Lock car doors and trunks. Here’s a chilling statistic: 30 percent of the recorded child heat stroke deaths occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. The simple solution is to lock all the car’s doors and the trunk so that children can’t have access to the vehicle and become trapped inside.