HAMPTON ROADS — May 1, 2021 marks National Heatstroke Prevention Day.
With the heat continuing to rise in Virginia, AAA reminds motorists of the real dangers of leaving any living being that cannot help itself unattended in a car for any amount of time, including children and furry friends.
“Think of your car just like your kitchen oven, where temperatures rise very quickly,” said Holly Dalby, spokesperson for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that temperatures inside of a car can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes and to 125 degrees in 6-8 minutes. With temperatures rising at the rate of about 20 degrees every three minutes, it is easy to see how a seemingly quick stop can very quickly turn disastrous.”
Children’s bodies overheat easily; infants and children under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness. Children’s bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult and are also less able to lower their body heat by sweating, causing the body temperature to rise rapidly.
When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as quickly as an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.
AAA Tidewater Virginia offers the following tips for motorists:
- Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
- Do not let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
- If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and it’s not part of your normal routine, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
- Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up as expected.
- Use reminders like a stuffed animal in the passenger seat or placing your bag in the back with your child or pet.
- Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Before entering a vehicle that has been parked in high temperatures, open the door and let the interior cool for a few minutes.
- A sun shield can be used to cover the windshield to minimize heat build-up and to help protect the automobile’s interior.
- Cover metal and plastic parts on safety belts and child safety seats to prevent burns.
- A properly working air conditioning system will also help motorists keep their cool in summer heat.
- Always have a fully charged cell phone with you, if possible, in order to call for help if the vehicle breaks down.
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