CLEVELAND – Roughly 30-60 children in the U.S. succumb to extreme heat from being left unattended in a parked vehicle each year.
Sadly, we often hear of tragic reports of a loving parent or caregiver accidentally leaving a sleeping child in the car.
A recent study looked at just how long it takes a car to reach deadly temperatures during hot weather.
Researchers tested different vehicle types in various degrees of sun and shade over a three-day period.
They found that in 100 degree temperatures, all of the vehicles, whether in the sun or in the shade, reached dangerous levels of triple digit temperatures within just one hour.
Dr. Kimberly Giuliano, M.D. of Cleveland Clinic Children’s did not take part in the research, but said babies and young children are especially sensitive to extreme heat.
She said temperatures in triple digits can lead to heat stroke at the least, and even death for a small child.
“The younger a child is, the higher risk they are of developing hyperthermia and heat-related injuries,” said Dr. Giuliano. “Young children have larger body surface areas compared to their overall weight, and they also have less-efficient cooling mechanisms – their bodies are warmer to begin with – and they don’t sweat as much.”
Dr. Giuliano said most times, children being left alone in hot cars comes down to caregivers forgetting that the child is in the car, which is why it’s especially important to be vigilant and extra attentive when transporting children during hot summer months.
“Put down the cell phones, the calls, the text messages, the groceries – all of that can wait until the child is safely inside the home or wherever other destination you’re going to,” she said.
Dr. Giuliano said children should never be left alone in a car for any reason. She urges parents and caregivers to always get children out of the car when arriving to a destination before doing anything else.
Letting a child play while first doing something else puts parents at risk for potentially getting distracted and leaving the child behind.
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