by Sarah Miller, MSN, RN-BC - Injury Prevention Coordinator, Trauma Services

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, but anyone who is distracted may be at risk. These tragedies are preventable and following a few simple tips may help save lives.

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. And because a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, the risk of heat stroke, 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.

If you are responsible for transporting children, keep these tips in mind for preventing hot car tragedies:

  1. Place your cell phone, purse or other important item in the backseat before driving to your destination. This will get you in the routine of checking the backseat every day.
  2. Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers so all of you know where your child is at all times.
  3. Before getting out of the car, check to be sure everyone is out and lock all doors. Thirty percent of the deaths in the U.S. have occurred when a child climbed into an unlocked vehicle.
  4. Have a plan with your daycare providers. Ask them to call you if your child does not arrive on time and they have not heard from you.
  5. If you see a child alone in a car, dial 911 immediately.

If you or someone else is injured, call 9-1-1 first. Healthcare professionals at Orange Park Medical Center are always available to help you. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. You can be seen at either of our Emergency Departments - Park West Free-Standing Emergency Department or at our main campus.

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