Call 911 if small kids are left in cars

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: August 25th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Attention shoppers: Help save a life on your next trip to the store by keeping an eye out for small children left alone in cars parked in the sweltering heat.

Every summer, children die under these circumstances, but critical care experts say there’s something we can do about it. We just have to be observant and willing to act.

August is Purple Ribbon Month, reminding drivers never to leave youngsters unattended in cars. Each year dozens of children die in the United States in non-traffic accidents involving motor vehicles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common cause is exposure to overheated vehicle interiors.

The temperature in a closed vehicle on a hot day can quickly exceed one-hundred-fifty degrees Fahrenheit. A child can die from heat stroke if body temperature climbs above one-hundred-six to one-hundred-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Small children are more vulnerable than adults are because their bodies have less effective sweating mechanisms and greater surface area compared with body weight.

If a child left in a vehicle appears alert, it may be safe to wait a moment to see if the driver reappears. But if the child appears groggy or unconscious, take action and call 9-1-1.

Every minute counts. Give an accurate address, location and description of the vehicle. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions. If the driver returns before help arrives, don’t start a confrontation. Focus instead on helping get the child out of the car, and let the police evaluate the driver’s actions.