LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK: Prevent child heat stroke this summer

In this Army file photo, a Soldier takes her daughter out the car. (U.S. Army News Service)

In this Army file photo, a Soldier takes her daughter out of the car. (U.S. Army News Service)

From the USAG Ansbach Safety Office

While all untimely accidents and injuries are unfortunate, some can be prevented by spreading awareness and teaching ourselves preventive behaviors.

Heat stroke is one of the leading causes of death in children, and vehicular heat stroke accounts for the deaths of 16 children this year. Since 1998, there have been more than 600 deaths since 1998. This did not have to happen.

Even great parents and guardians can forget a child in the backseat – especially in a change of routine – and sometimes caregivers who aren’t used to driving children can forget too.

Remember to look before you lock. Make it a habit. Here are a few steps to avoid putting children at risk of heat stroke:

  • Always check the backseats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
  • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it is empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the backseat.
  • If someone else is driving your child, check in to ensure your child arrives safely.

Here are a few facts about vehicular temperature and children’s sensitivity to heat:

  • In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise more than 11 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Even with an outdoor temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature of your vehicle can reach 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Children die when their body temperature reaches 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit).

Although preventing the injury or death of a young child and loved one is reason enough not to leave a child in a car, parents and guardians who leave their child in a car could be arrested and incarcerated.

According to Brian Crowley, the deputy provost marshal at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, people who walk by and see a child alone in a vehicle on a warm day can help prevent a tragedy. First they must determine if the child is in immediate distress; if so, they must notify the Ansbach military law enforcement officials by calling 09802-83-110 or DSN 110. Prudent action should be taken to safeguard the child before the arrival of first responders. Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of extreme heat and must rely on other people to keep them cool and hydrated.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • heavy sweating
  • weakness
  • cold, pale, clammy skin
  • fast, weak pulse,
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fainting.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • rapid, strong pulse
  • possible unconsciousness.

Likewise, never leave pets in a parked car as they can suffer heat-related illness also.

To learn more about warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.

To learn more, visit the USAG Ansbach safety page at www.ansbach.army.mil/safety.html, or call the USAG Ansbach Safety Office at 0981-183-1670 or DSN 468-1670.

To read the child supervision policy for Installation Management Command – Europe, visit Child Supervision Policy JAN 2016.

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