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State patrol warns adults to prevent vehicular child heatstroke

Kate Boe
Kate Boe's life was lost in 2006 after she was accidentally left alone in a hot vehicle.
— image credit: Courtesy of kidsandcars.org

As the warmest month of the year approaches, the Washington State Patrol is urging adults to never leave a young child alone in a car - especially in the sun.

In 2013, at least 19 children nationwide lost their lives after being left unattended in a motor vehicle during sunny weather. To date, none of these deaths have occurred in Washington. The Washington State Patrol offers parents information and suggestions to help avoid this tragedy.

Even with the windows cracked two inches, the internal temperature of a motor vehicle can exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. On sunny days when the outside temperature may be in the 60’s, the internal temperature of a motor vehicle can still exceed 110 degrees within one hour.

Heatstroke is caused when the internal temperature of the body exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A child’s regulatory system is not as efficient as an adult’s, and their body will heat up three to five times faster. When the child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit damage to the cells and internal organs will occur. Children less than 4 years old are at greatest risk for heat-related illness.

Call 911 immediately if you observe a child unattended in a motor vehicle. It is a specific crime in Washington to leave a child under 16 years of age in a motor vehicle with the engine running.

Other suggestions are:

• Never leave children unattended in or around a motor vehicle; not for even a minute.

• Put something you will need at your destination in the backseat near the child such as a briefcase, purse, or cell phone.

• Always check the backseat before you lock the vehicle and walk away.

• Teach your children that a motor vehicle is not a playground.

• Always lock your vehicle and set the parking brake even in your garage. Keep the keys out of the reach of your child.

For more information and suggestions go to www.safekids.org, www.nhtsa.gov, or www.kidsandcars.org.

 

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