MILWAUKEE (7/15/2013) - Summertime brings more than fun and vacation time; too often it brings tragedies that could have been prevented. Each year, approximately 38 children die from being overheated in an unattended vehicle, and the number starts to drastically increase in the peak of summer. The United States has already reached a milestone this year, one not worthy of pride - 20 children in the U.S. have died of hyperthermia (being left in a car in the heat).
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that these incidents will occur across the country, but we don't want this happening in Wisconsin. That is why Safe Kids Wisconsin continues to remind everyone of the dangers during this heat wave in hopes of stopping any caregiver or parent from leaving a child alone in a car.
It can happen as early as February, with temperatures as low as the mid-50s. However, the seemingly inevitable news that a child has died from heat stroke becomes more consistent with warmer weather.
Although most would assume this would never happen to them, there is no common description of the caregiver who has experienced this tragedy. It has happened to the rich and poor, well-educated and less educated, women and men, and city-dwellers and suburbanites. Historically, 51% of these accidents occur because of parents unintentionally "forgetting" their child, likely from a distraction or change in routine.
There is truly no greater tragedy for a parent than to suffer the loss of a child, especially one due to hyperthermia. While the risks and causes of these horrific child hyperthermia deaths are well known, it still happens an average of 38 times a year. As resilient advocates for never leaving your child alone in a car, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Safe Kids Wisconsin have united to educate parents and caregivers with preventative tips to avoid these heart-breaking tragedies. Tips include placing a cell phone, laptop, or whateveris necessary for the day on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. You can also set an alarm to remind yourself to drop off your child at day care. More tips are available from the National Weather Service.
A little less than a third of these accidents occur from children who gain access to an unlocked vehicle, which can be avoided by simply locking the doors so children don't enter the vehicle and become trapped. Remind your children that a car is not a playground and encourage them to play away from your vehicle. By locking cars, creating reminders for ourselves, and acting immediately to assist a child left alone in a vehicle, we can save children's lives.
July 31 Is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. Quick Action Can Save a Young Life.
A member of Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe Kids Wisconsin works to prevent accidental injuries, the leading cause of death among children 14 years of age and younger. The coalition combines the expertise of Safe Kids coalitions and chapters statewide to prevent childhood injuries through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives. Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is its lead agency.
About Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is the region's only independent health care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wis., is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked No. 4 in the nation by Parents magazine and ranked in 9 specialty areas in U.S.News & World Report's 2013-14 Best Children's Hospitals report. Children's Hospital provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2011, Children's Hospital invested more than $100 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children's Hospital achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at chw.org.