Look before you lock - News Release
IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department’s (ICPHD) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency is warning residents about the dangers of heatstroke. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. California Highway Patrol (CHP) and El Centro Fire Department join efforts each year with ICPHD EMS Agency to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.
“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Robert Gonzalez, Public Information Officer with the El Centro Fire Department. “What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.”
The Imperial County EMS Agency, CHP and El Centro Fire Department ask parents and caregivers to do these three things:
- NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended even if the engine is running and the air conditioner is turned on.
- Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car.
- ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.
Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. It is important to note that heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing data, in 2022, 33 children lost their lives due to heatstroke from being left in hot vehicles. The average number of child heatstroke fatalities in the U.S. per year since 1998 is 38.
Parents can download the Kars4Kids Safety App to use as a tool to check for their baby before walking away from their vehicle. Parents should be aware of the warning signs of heatstroke, which include red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child displays any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, it is crucial to cool the child down rapidly by spraying them with cool water or using a garden hose, and NEVER an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately for prompt medical assistance.
Ten years ago, NHTSA launched a public education campaign, “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock,” in the hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache. In Imperial County posters have been shared with local pediatricians, healthcare providers and childcare sites to promote the campaign. To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look before you Lock.” campaign, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/heatstroke.