Don’t leave children in hot vehicles this weekend, officials warn

With extreme heat blazing over the state this weekend, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services urges the public to avoid leaving children in vehicles.

“Extreme temperatures are cause for concern, so we advise the public to take necessary steps to keep cool and prevent harm,” said Dr. Steve Davis, acting commissioner for public health. “Serious injury — particularly for children exposed to extreme levels of heat — can occur. Everyone should take steps to avoid these dangers.”

Last year, 33 children died of heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia. In 2010, there were 49 deaths, according to a cabinet press release.

More than half of child heat stroke deaths happen because parents and caregivers forget the child is in the car. To prevent this from happening, drivers should place a cell phone, purse or briefcase on the floor in front of the child to trigger their awareness. They can also set an alarm to remember to drop their child off at day care.

Parents should not underestimate the risk, since vehicles can heat up very quickly even on relatively cool days. A child’s body temperature increases three to five times faster than adults, making them especially vulnerable to heat.

Thirty percent of heat stroke deaths happen because a child was playing in a vehicle that was left unattended. Parents should remember to lock the vehicles to avoid the children being able to enter them.

If a bystander sees a child unattended in a car, he or she could call 911 immediately. (Read more)

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