With outside temperatures of only 80 degrees, a car's inside temperature can jump 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And that car will continue to become hotter over time. Already this year, 13 children nationwide, including one child in Georgia, have died after being left in cars. The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) is working alongside Safe Kids coalitions across the state to increase awareness about child safety and reduce these preventable deaths.
"As the temperatures rise, we are now seeing almost daily reports from the media around the country of kids being rescued after being left in cars," said Dr. Patrick O'Neal, director of DCH's Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response.
"This shows that these deaths are preventable. Extra planning by the driver and quick action by concerned by-standers can make the difference for these kids."
A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's, putting kids at greater risk for heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause permanent brain damage or even death, especially among children.
About 37 children die from heat stroke each year after being left alone in hot cars. In over 50 percent of these cases, a caring adult forgot to take the child out of the car when they left the vehicle. The combination of changing summer schedules and rising temperatures puts kids in cars at risk.
To help prevent heat-related injuries for children in cars, DCH and Safe Kids Georgia urge all adults to:
- Call 911 immediately if you see a child alone in a car. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible
- Never leave a child alone in a car -- not even for a minute, not even if the windows are down
- Set a reminder on your cell phone, blackberry or computer to be sure that you drop your child at daycare
- Place your cell phone, purse or briefcase on the floor of the back seat. This will help remind you to open the back door and see that your child is in the car
- Ask your childcare provider to call if your child does not arrive when expected
- Lock car doors and always keep keys out of reach of young children. Teach children not to play in or around cars.
- If a child is missing, check the car and truck first
For more information on preventing heat-related injuries for children visit: www.safekids.org/nlyca and www.ggweather.com/heat.