Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

June 6, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Hot Weather and Vehicles can be a Deadly Combination for Kids

Safe Kids Kansas Has Easy Tips to Keep Kids Safer Around Vehicles During the Summer Months

As temperatures heat up, children are at a serious risk for heat stroke when left alone even for a few minutes in a closed vehicle. Approximately 365 children across the United States have died from heatstroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle over the past decade.

Heat is much more dangerous to children than it is to adults. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. This could cause permanent injury or even death. Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A core body temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is considered lethal.

“The inside of a vehicle can rise 19 degrees above the outside temperature in just 10 minutes,” said Jan Stegelman, Coalition Coordinator for Safe Kids Kansas. “After an hour, the temperature inside and outside of a vehicle can differ by 45 degrees or more – even if the window is left open a crack.”

Safe Kids USA and General Motors created the Never Leave Your Child Alone program to educate families on the dangers kids face in hot vehicles.

According to research conducted by San Francisco State University, even with relatively cool temperatures outside—70 degrees—the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes.

The research also revealed that more than half of these children were accidentally left behind in a closed, parked car by parents or caregivers while nearly a third of these children were trapped while playing in a vehicle unattended. Sadly, one in five children who died were intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.

“A child is our most precious cargo and drivers must know that these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable,” said Stegelman. “Our hearts go out to every family that has lost a child in this way. No one ever thinks it would happen to them, and that is why it’s essential to get this message out, especially during the summer months.”

Safe Kids suggests these tips for parents and caregivers:

Never Leave Your Child Alone is a component of Safe Kids Buckle Up, which was created by Safe Kids USA and General Motors in 1996 to teach families how to keep children safer in and around vehicles. Chevrolet became the lead brand in the partnership in 2004. Nationwide, more than 13 million people have been exposed to the program through hands-on educational activities, car seat checkup events and community outreach programs.

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.