Help to Eliminate ‘Forgotten Child’ Deaths Due to Hyperthermia

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Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center has joined with Safe Kids USA and more than 40 other organizations to remind parents and caregivers to Never Leave Your Child Alone in a vehicle, particularly on warm weather days. This is a great public service campaign for any business to promote to their communities as well.

Between 1998-2010 450 children died from hyperthermia caused by heat stroke because they were left unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive.* In an effort to make 2010 the safest year in memory, experts and child advocates are reminding parents and caregivers to check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.

Carey Goltzman, M.D., Chief, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center reminds us, “A child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s and unattended children have no way of protecting themselves in a hot vehicle.”

More than 50 percent of the children who died from hyperthermia were “forgotten” by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle.* Thirty percent of affected kids gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, became trapped and were overcome by heat when they were unattended by an adult.* It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car. Drivers must keep car doors locked and their keys out of the reach of young children.

Dr. Goltzman explained that the “overall goal of the campaign is to prevent deaths caused by hyperthermia when children are left unattended on warm days. We want parents and caregivers to take the necessary precautions so this tragedy does not happen to them.”

Safe Kids USA urges all adults who transport children to take the following steps:

  • Never leave children alone in a car — even for one minute.
  • Set a mobile phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) reminder to ensure your child is dropped off at daycare.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask: “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  • Place a mobile phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in the back seat.  This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child.
  • Ask your child care provider to call you if your child does not arrive when expected.
  • Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children’s reach.
  • Lock all vehicles at all times.
  • Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.

Dr. Goltzman discusses hyperthermia in an important podcast at www.WorldClassMedicine.com/Hyperthermia. For more information on the Never Leave Your Child Alone campaign, visit www.safekids.org/nlyca.

For more information on Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, please visit www.WorldClassMedicine.com/MFCH.

* According to Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles; www.ggweather.com/heat

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