Safe Kids Allen County Warns About the Risks of Heatstroke

Record-breaking temperatures in March may signal increased danger in 2012

As outside temperatures rise, the danger of children being seriously injured or even dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises. That’s why Safe Kids Allen County endorses a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration campaign to reduce the number of tragedies by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke in young children.

“More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and more than 30 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own,” said Lorri Rowe, Healthy Families of Allen County administrator and Safe Kids Allen County coalition member. “Approximately 40 children die nationally every year from heatstroke because they were left in hot vehicles. Countless others suffer severe injuries, including permanent cases of brain damage, blindness and hearing loss.”

According to NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under. In an effort to prevent these needless tragedies, Safe Kids Allen County stresses several NHTSA recommendations:

1. NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended;

2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the vehicle;

3. ALWAYS lock the vehicle and put the keys out of reach;

4. And, if you ever see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.

Warning signs of heatstroke include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse, or a slow weak pulse, nausea, confusion or strange actions. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose. Never put a child with any of these symptoms in an ice bath. Call 911 immediately.

“Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees,” said Carmen DeBruce, Safe Kids Allen County coordinator. “On an 80° day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.”

Safe Kids Allen County offers these safety tips to help parents and caregivers prevent deadly accidents and vehicular heatstroke:

  • Lock cars and trucks.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors and putting keys out of reach to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Create reminders.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.  To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a back seat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings. 
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care. 
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at child care today?”  Establish a plan with your child care provider that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes.  Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for child care.
  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.  The body temperature of children rises 3 - 5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke.  Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.

Safe Kids Allen County is a coalition of local organizations dedicated to preventing accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. The lead organization for Safe Kids Allen County is Lutheran Children’s Hospital. Safe Kids Allen County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Allen County was founded in 1999.

Safe Kids USA is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. More than 600 coalitions and chapters across the U.S. and 19 member countries across the globe bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.  For more information visit .

The Safe Kids Allen County coalition includes these member organizations:

Allen County Sheriff’s Department
American Red Cross
Community Action of Northeast Indiana (CANI)
Dupont Hospital
Early Childhood Alliance
Family & Children’s Services
Fort Wayne – Allen County Department of Health
Fort Wayne Fire Department
Fort Wayne Police Department
Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving
Indiana State Police
Lutheran Children’s Hospital (lead organization)
Lutheran Hospital
New Haven Police Department
New York Life
Parkview Hospital
Safe Kids Volunteer Corps
St. Joseph Regional Burn Center
Stop Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN)
Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA)

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