AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – With hotter temperatures upon us, comes a higher risk for heat stroke and death for children left in hot cars.
Data shows the majority of hot car deaths happen because someone forgot their child in a car. Even when outside temperatures are moderate, car temperatures can rise nearly 40 degrees in a matter of minutes.
“This isn’t the kind of thing that just affects bad people,” said Dr. Jedidiah Ballard, associate professor of emergency medicine at Augusta University. “It’s very normal people that are busy and overscheduled like all of us that forget one time. And sometimes it ends in some really sad outcomes.”
The National Highway Transportation Administration says about 40 children die each year from heatstroke.
Dr. Ballard tells us the vast majority of child car deaths are accidents or the result of a forgetful moment.
“Cars act, essentially, like little ovens,” said Dr. Ballard. “The inside of a car can get up to 120-130 degrees- temperatures where damage can occur pretty rapidly. You should never leave a kid or puppy in the car, especially in the summer in Georgia.”
“We don’t realize how hot a car is on the inside,” said Chiquita Richardson, public information officer for the Augusta Fire Department.
Richardson tells us there are things she does as helpful reminders.
“One of my favorite things to do- I, too, have a child- I leave my phone in the back,” said Richardson. “I let my child play with my phone, my briefcase on the floorboard…or my purse on my backseat. So, when you get out of your car, you immediately go to your backseat and say, ‘my phone, my car’. Everything’s intact.”
Dr. Ballard tells us ‘evaporative healing’ is the best way to treat heat-related incidents.
“So if you’re kind of spraying them down with cool water once you remove them there,” said Dr. Ballard. “And really kind of getting excess clothing and whatnot off of them as well.”
He says people should be vigilant, especially about leaving smaller children and animals in cars.
“Basically, they’ve got so much surface area in relation to their density that they get cold much faster, but they also get hot much faster,” said Dr. Ballard. “And they can’t regulate their temperatures as good as adults. Where you could be very comfortable- or just a little uncomfortable, your kid or your puppy could actually be at significant risk.”
Hydrate. And if there is a change in mental status, he says, you need to go immediately to the emergency room. Doctors and emergency workers say always check the front and back seat of your car before locking your doors and walking away. For more information on hot car safety, visit National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.