Heatstroke is a condition that occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Children are at great risk for heatstroke because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When the internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees, children’s organs start to shut down. And when it reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
Every 10 days, across the United States, a child dies while unattended in a hot car. It only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to a child inside. As summer temperatures rise, more kids are at risk – the death toll this summer has already exceeded 20.
As parents, we often have conflicted feelings about safety: On the one hand, we can sometimes be too cautious, overestimating our child’s level of risk of a particular danger. And at the same time, we can completely dismiss certain hazards, assuming our child would never be affected. This is especially true of one particular kind of accident.
As a technical advisor at Safe Kids Worldwide, where I work closely with families to help keep kids safe in and around cars, I dread hearing my work cell phone when it dings in the middle of the night or on a weekend. Unfortunately, that “ding” is often an e-mail telling me that yet another child has died because of heatstroke.
The alarm to parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a car sounded louder last week after three more children died of heatstroke in cars. As summer temperatures reach record highs across the country, these preventable tragedies remind us to be even more vigilant to prevent heatstroke from killing another child.
As a longtime member of the Safe Kids staff I was pretty familiar with child safety, long before I became Stephen’s dad 17 months ago, Back then, I didn’t realize the impact Safe Kids would have on my new role as parent.