It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, but it happens every summer.
Children suffer heatstroke and, in some cases, die after being left in hot cars.
Registered nurse Phyllis Larimore points out children left inside a vehicle can suffer fatal hyperthermia in just minutes, even when the outside temperature is mild. She says a change in routine is often behind these tragedies.
“Children have stopped going to school, and so there’s something new, or someone else is taking them to the daycare,” said Larimore. “These things happen across all socioeconomic strata, all types of parents.”
According to kidsandcars.org, nearly 400 children in America have died in hot cars in the last decade, an average of 38 deaths per year.
The summer heat and humidity can also spell trouble for children who spend time outdoors, as a child’s body heats up much faster than an adult’s. Dr. Eric Kirkendall said that makes them more susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heatstroke.
“That includes hot, flushed skin typically associated with high fevers over 104 degrees,” Kirkendall said. “And that’s when kids will also start to have altered mental states – they’ll start getting really confused and, in some of the worst cases, can have seizures.”
To protect against heat-related illnesses, Kirkendall said parents need to make sure their children stay hydrated and their exposure to the sun is limited.