Why a Hot Car Is No Place for Your Child

Dozens of young children lose their lives each year because of heatstroke caused by being left alone in a parked car. And contrary to popular belief, these deaths do not usually occur because the parents were being negligent or were uninformed of the risks. Typically, these cases arise simply because exhausted parents forgot their kids were in the backseat. Since a tragic death could affect any family, it’s critical for all parents to take precautionary measures. Here at Riverside Community Hospital, our emergency care team urges parents to adopt safety habits that may save their children’s lives.

Understanding Heatstroke

Heatstroke is the most severe type of heat-related illness. It occurs when the body’s temperature is over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. When a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, the condition is fatal. Heatstroke can cause seizures, delirium, unconsciousness, weakness, and rapid heartbeat, and it requires immediate care in the ER. Heatstroke is a particularly serious risk for infants and young children because they cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as an adult can. This means that they cannot withstand the high temperatures within a car for any length of time.

Identifying the Risks of a Hot Car

On a hot day, a parked car is like a sauna. Within a matter of minutes, the temperature inside a car can rise to dangerous levels. It’s important for parents and caregivers to know that children have died in cars because of heatstroke even when the outdoor temperature was in the 60s; hot car deaths are not only a concern when heat waves occur. It will not protect a child to leave the windows cracked open or the car parked in the shade. The only way to prevent hot car deaths is to never leave children in parked cars, not even for a few minutes.

If you see a child in distress, call 911 immediately. The ER physicians and nurses at Riverside Community Hospital provide responsive care that can save lives. Residents throughout the Riverside area can direct their non-emergent questions about our hospital services to a registered nurse at (951) 788-3463.

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