2 Your Health:Why it’s so easy for a child to die in a hot car

Tragically, each year, infants and children die from heat stroke after being accidentally left in a vehicle on a hot day.

According to Thomas Phelps, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, even on days that might not feel that hot to adults, for a baby that cannot regulate their body temperature, the onset of heat stroke can happen very quickly.

“Young babies, their temperature can rise three to five times faster than our temperature,” said Dr. Phelps. “So, in a matter of minutes, their temperature can get very high, especially if the outside temperature is eighty and above, the babies, and children under age four, are still at high risk for that.”

Dr. Phelps said no child should be left in a car unattended, regardless of age, for any period of time.

The temperature in a car can rise very quickly, making anyone susceptible to hyperthermia or heat stroke if left in a car for as little as ten minutes.

Heat stroke becomes fatal when the body’s organs actually shut down from over-heating.

Dr. Phelps said children suffering from heat stroke would show symptoms of sweating, becoming flush in the face, vomiting and excessive sleepiness.

If traveling in the car on a hot day, Dr. Phelps recommends keeping the car cool.

If the car does not have air conditioning, keep the windows rolled down and make sure that everyone in the car stays hydrated.

Experts recommend that parents with infants get into the habit of checking the car before heading into work by putting something in the backseat that’s needed during the day, like a cell phone, purse or briefcase.

It’s also crucial to never let a child play in the car and to always keep keys out of reach to keep curious children from getting inside of a car without a parent knowing.

As far as preventing tragic accidents, Dr. Phelps said the most important thing a parent can do is to slow down and be present.

“Being extremely present, because as a parent, you’re the one who’s responsible for them,” said Dr. Phelps. “If you’re busy and multitasking and doing ten things, your presence to yourself and to the baby are going to put the baby at risk.”



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