JACKSON, Miss. – With these hot summer months the Mississippi Department of Transportation wants to remind you to never leave kids in a car.
Hyperthermia is a condition in which the body’s core temperature rises above normal. If left untreated for too long, hyperthermia can lead to heatstroke, which can affect brain cells and cardiac rhythms, causing permanent injury, such as vision or hearing loss, even death.
Nationwide an average of 30 children die each year as a result of being left in a vehicle, making heatstroke one of the top causes for child deaths.
“On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to deadly levels in a matter of minutes, even if the windows are left cracked open,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “It’s important to know that children are much more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child dies.”
While this problem is often blamed on irresponsible parenting, MDOT wants to remind everyone that even the best parents have had children experience a heatstroke. In a majority of heatstroke cases, a child was mistakenly left behind by a caregiver who was not accustomed to having a child with them as a part of their normal routine. In other cases, a child climbed into a car and became trapped, because the car door was unlocked and the vehicle left unattended.
Here are a few tips MDOT suggests to prevent heatstroke deaths in hot cars:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even with the windows down, engine running or air conditioning on, it’s dangerous.
- Look before you lock: make it a habit to check your backseat before you leave your car.
- Take action if you notice a child alone in a car: call 911 and remove the child if possible.
- Keep your car locked with the keys in a safe location when you are not near the vehicle.
- Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.