National Heatstroke Prevention Day May 13, 2022
Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues an important reminder to parents and caretakers about the significant dangers hot vehicles pose to children. On Sunday, May 1st, the administration launched its “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” National Heatstroke Prevention Day. The campaign’s primary goal is to remind parents and caregivers about the useful steps they can take to safeguard children against preventable tragedies.
What is Heatstroke? Warning Signs and Risk Factors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that heatstroke is the most dangerous of all heat-related illnesses. When a person experiences heatstroke, his or her body is unable to regulate its temperature due to an inability to sweat. Some warning signs of heatstroke include high body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or above), hot, red, dry, or damp skin, a fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and losing consciousness or passing out. Individuals who experience heatstroke can face a slew of complications, including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), seizure, brain swelling, kidney failure, liver failure, metabolic dysfunction, nerve damage, and reduced blood flow to the heart or other circulatory organs. While heatstroke is extremely dangerous, it is preventable.
According to the NHTSA, one of the biggest risk factors for heatstroke-related deaths in children is a change in a parent or caregiver’s daily routine. As the pandemic continues and millions of individuals alternate working on-site and working from home with regularly changing schedules, the risk of forgetting a child in the backseat can increase. Even on a cooler day or with the windows open, a car can still heat up quite quickly. For example, a vehicle can become 20 degrees hotter in just 10 minutes. Heatstroke fatalities have happened in cars parked in shady areas and in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. Although heatstroke is a serious concern for people of all ages, because their bodies heat up at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s, children are particularly susceptible to experiencing complications. The NHTSA estimates that approximately 38 children die in preventable heatstroke-related tragedies after being left in hot cars each year.
Keeping Kids Safe: Heatstroke Prevention Tips
The main focus of the NHTSA’s annual campaign is to remind the public of ways they can keep children safe. Here are some examples:
- Always lock your car when you are not using it. Even if you do not have a child of your own, it is important to keep your vehicle locked to prevent children in the neighborhood from entering it unsupervised
- Never leave a child alone in the car, even if you think you will only be gone for a minute
- When you are driving with your child, remember to always Look Before You Lock. This helps to ensure that you drop your child off at daycare or with a designated caregiver and that you do not accidentally leave them in the backseat
- Keep an item in the backseat, like a teddy bear, that you put up front with you when your child is in the vehicle. This can serve as a useful reminder. You can also leave your bag or purse in the backseat with your child as a hint
- See if your vehicle has a backseat reminder technology, or a rear reminder system. This technology is designed to remind a driver that there is someone important in the backseat
- If you see a child in distress, act immediately and call 9-1-1
Nearly every auto manufacturer has committed to adding a rear passenger alert system to their vehicles by 2025. Even if your vehicle is not equipped with a rear reminder system, you may still be able to have one installed by a manufacturer. There are several different kinds of backseat reminder technologies out there: some are as simple as giving the driver a prompt on his or her infotainment screen to look to the back seat, while others use weight and motion sensors that detect movement even after the driver turns the vehicle off. Talk to your vehicle manufacturer to learn more about installing a rear passenger alert system in your car.
Simply by utilizing available technologies and taking a few straightforward and easy precautions, we can bring the yearly number of hot car deaths down to zero. If you would like to read more about the NHTSA’s annual National Heatstroke Prevention Day campaign, please visit: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-reminds-parents-look-before-you-lock. If you have a legal question or concern, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
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