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Protect Infants and Children from Heat-Related Illness

When it’s hot outside, Stay Cool-Stay Hydrated-Stay Informed!

Extremely hot weather can cause serious health effects such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke or even death. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to the effects of extreme heat and rely on others to keep them safe.

Leaving Kids Alone in Hot Cars — Know the Risks and Consequences    

Bystanders

If you see a young child locked in a parked car for more than 5 minutes:

  • First make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
  • If the child appears okay, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
  • If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
    If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.
  • If the child is in distress due to heat, get the child out of the car as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not in an ice bath) by spraying the child with cool water.

Even great parents can forget a child in the back seat, but caregivers who are unaccustomed to transporting children are especially prone to forgetting. Think about the last time your routine was interrupted. Maybe you forgot something, or were afraid you might forget something. Or maybe you decided to leave your child alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” In either case, it’s important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars — especially hot cars.

   
     
Risk    
  • In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
  • With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
  • A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
  • Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
  • A child dies when his/her temperature reaches 107.
   
Consequences    
  • The heat-related death of a child
  • Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states
  • Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car 
    Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.
   

 

5 tips to protect infants and children from heat-related illness

 

 1. Never leave infants or children in a parked car. NEVER!

 2. Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

 3. Make sure your child is drinking more water than usual and don’t wait until they are thirsty to give them more.

 4. Regularly apply sunscreen on your child as indicated on the package.

 5. Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.

 

Resources

Fact/Tip Sheets - Brochures
Kids in Hot Cars: Safety Tips for Parents
Kids in Hot Cars: Fact Sheet
Parent Brochure
 
Helpful Websites 
Parents Central - From car seats to car keys: Keeping kids safe
http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heatstroke.htm
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Extreme heat
http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/children.html
 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Unattended Cars
http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/
childrenandcars/pages/unattend-hotcars.htm
 
KidsHealth from Nemours: Heat Illness
http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/heat.html
 
Safe Kids Worldwide: Preventing Heatstroke
http://www.safekids.org/preventing-heatstroke
 
Baby Center: Heatstroke
http://www.babycenter.com/0_heat-stroke_11259.bc
 
Infographics 
 
  

Posters

 

Video: Safe Kids/Hot Cars: Never Leave Your Child Alone

 

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Content last reviewed 9/29/2014 – Page last updated 9/29/2014