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Summer 2010
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What You Need to Know about Hyperthermia – aka Heat Stroke

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Did you know that a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's? It only takes a few short minutes before a kid can become dangerously overheated.

Every year, more than 30 children die because they are left alone in a car. In just 10 minutes, a car's temperature can increase by 19 degrees and it continues to rise as time goes on. There is no evidence that cracking the windows helps keep a car cool. In fact, sunshine coming through car windows makes the car work like an oven.

Leaving a child of any age alone in a car – even for one minute – is unsafe. Safe Kids has recorded deaths of children all the way up to age 13 who were overcome by heat in a car. The car can be a very scary place for a young child as it heats up quickly on a cool day. Think of it on a very hot day!

Also, children left alone in a car are vulnerable to car jacking, strangers who may be up to no good and a myriad of other dangers if they are unrestrained. Some children have been able to set cars in motion by releasing brakes and putting the car in gear. They have been entangled in seat belts and trapped in power windows. So make it a practice to never leave your child alone in a car.

Safety Tips

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for one minute. It seems like an innocent act to leave a child in a back seat while you make a quick run into a store to pick up a few things; however, this is dangerous because it only takes a few minutes to put your child at risk.
  • Call 911 if you see children unattended in a car. First responders would rather have those calls so they can determine if the child is at risk than have the emergency call later when a child is in deep trouble.
  • Keep car doors and trunks locked so children cannot play in them. Keep keys and remote entry key fobs out of children's reach. Kids may be able to use the remote to unlock a car from inside a house, leaving an unlocked car for others to enter.
  • Make it a habit to check the back seat when you exit and remember to never leave your child alone in a car.

Source: excerpt from Safe Kids USA

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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.