Recently, an 18-month-old girl died in Panama City when her mother forgot her in the car. The child was found unresponsive eight hours later. A tragedy like this sparks a lot of emotion- outrage, anger, disbelief, shock and heartbreak.
This kind of news makes you want to hold your child a little closer. While most parents think it could never happen to them, mothers and fathers are the most common caregivers to leave their children forgotten in a vehicle.
“Whatever the reason parents leave their child in the car, everyone can agree it is an absolute tragedy,” said Ellsworth Buck Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. “At GreatFlorida Insurance, we want to help prevent a horrible situation such as this from happening to families. We hope by informing our customers and providing them with information, we can put an end to children suffering heatstroke in cars.”
Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children. Kids are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. Their bodies warm three to five times faster than adults. On the website, noheatstroke.org, San Jose State University Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, reports from 1998- present, 639 children have died from heatstroke. In Florida, 68 children have been forgotten in the car by their caregiver.
The National Highway of Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA has recommendations to make sure no child is forgotten in a hot vehicle.
- Always check the backseat before you lock the car and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or toy in your child’s car seat. When it is occupied, move it to the front seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the car.
- When someone else drives your child, call to make sure the child has arrived safely. Consider making arrangements with your child’s daycare to call you when they are not present.
- Utilize drive- thru services
The weather can be deceptive and is not always a reliable factor for determining car temperatures. Noheatstroke.org reports, in 10 minutes a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. Even at a temperature of 60 degrees outside, the temperature inside of your vehicle can reach 110. Cloudy days are also a threat and opening windows does not prevent heatstroke.
Bystanders are always encouraged to get involved when they see a child left alone in a vehicle. Florida’s “Good Samaritan Act,” provides immunity from civil liability for those who offer care at the scene of an emergency. If you see a child alone in a car, act immediately. Call 911 then remove the child from the car. Spray the child with cool water, no ice. If the child is responsive, stay with them until the authorities arrive. Have someone search for the driver or have them paged at the facility you are located.
Signs of a heatstroke:
- Temperature over 104
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed (red) skin
- Racing heart rate
- Skin is hot but dry to the touch
- Confusion or strange behavior
A child dies when his or her body temperature reaches 107. It is best to never leave children in the car unattended.