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Never leave children in vehicles unattended in summer heat

James Christopher MunleyDuring the warm summer months, children left alone in vehicles are at a high risk of suffering from heatstroke and possibly even death. We just saw tragedy strike earlier this month when 22-month-old Cooper Harris died after been left strapped in his car seat inside of a hot car all day. Each year dozens of children left in parked vehicles die from heatstroke. The National Weather Service warns that during extremely hot and humid weather, the body’s ability to cool itself is affected. This is even worse when inside of a hot vehicle.

According to a research study by a San Francisco State University researcher, at least 619 children have died in similar circumstances since 1998. It doesn’t take long for the temperature to rise inside of a closed vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach deadly temperature levels when the outside temperature is in the low 80’s.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 82% of deaths due to heat-related car injuries occur among children age 3 and under. Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences found that at least 44 children in the United States lost their lives in 2013 after being left in attended motor vehicles, and an unknown number were moderately to severely injured. So far this year, the number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars is already 13 with summer in the northeast just beginning.

According to a new study by Safe Kids Worldwide, heatstroke is the number one cause of non-crash vehicle related deaths for children ages 14 and under. 14% of parents say they have left a child alone inside a parked vehicle despite the risk of heatstroke. Based on the U.S. population, that translates to nearly two million parents transporting more than 3.3 million children. For parents under the age of three, the percentage rises to 23%.

The average number of U.S. heatstroke fatalities per year is 38. Young children are particularly at risk, because their bodies heat up much faster than an adult. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, it can be fatal.

The symptoms of heatstroke include:
• Altered mental state
• Possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing.
• High body temperature
• Skin hot and dry, or possibly sweating
• Rapid pulse
• Possible unconsciousness

It is imperative that if you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, you get immediate medical attention. Move them to a cooler, air-conditioned environment and try to reduce the body temperature with a fan or sponging.

Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunk, even in your driveway, so children aren’t tempted to play in a parked vehicle. Keep your keys of out of the reach of children. When driving with a child in a child safety seat, create a reminder for yourself, such as placing your purse, cellphone or briefcase in the car next to the child. If you see a child alone in a car, take immediate action and call 911.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can fight for you and your family. Choose carefully. Choose Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.

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