by Sarah Miller, Trauma Coordinator

One hundred percent of heatstroke deaths of children in cars are preventable. During summer months in Florida, temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees. Many cases of children being left in hot cars have been in the media recently and anyone who is transporting children may be at risk. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, on a relatively mild 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. Regardless of whether windows are left “cracked”, interior temperatures can be 50 degrees higher than outside which can exceed 135 degrees. And because a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, the risk of heatstroke, brain damage and death is much greater for children left in hot cars. This means that only a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.

Following a few simple tips may help save lives. Remember to ACT:

Avoid Heatstroke – Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.

Create Reminders – Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child. Create a “look before you leave” routine whenever you get of the car. Have a plan that your childcare provider will call if your child does not show up as expected.

Take Action – If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations.

If a child is missing, always check the pool first and then cars. Visit noheatstroke.org and safekids.org for more information. If you or someone else is injured, call 911 first. Healthcare professionals at Orange Park Medical Center are always available to help you. In an emergency, call 911. You can be seen at either of our Emergency Departments – Park West Free-Standing Emergency Department or at our main campus. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact our Trauma Department at (904) 639-2198 or sarah.miller8@hcahealthcare.com.