2014-06-05 / Community

Leave your kids in the car? MDCH warns of the dangers

A child’s body heats up faster than an adult’s

LANSING – As the longawaited warmer weather arrives, the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan State Police and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are reminding parents and caregivers to be diligent and never leave children alone in vehicles.

Last year, at least 44 children died from heatstroke in vehicles across the country. Three of these deaths happened in Michigan alone.

“We know from past experience that these fatalities can happen anytime, anywhere, including in moderate temperatures,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). “We don’t want to see this happen to any family. We are asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”

It doesn’t have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated.

Even with mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside.

“As a mom, I know how important it is to protect our children,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “By taking small steps, we really can prevent a tragedy and save lives.”

Too many children have lost their lives to this preventable, heartbreaking tragedy. Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT:

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

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see or hear a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

“Heatstroke is a preventable tragedy – to save lives we must raise awareness of the need to ACT,” said MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. “Parents and caregivers need to know just how dangerous it is to leave a child alone in a vehicle for any amount of time.”

The MDCH, MSP, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and additional agencies have come together to raise awareness of this issue. The MSP is reinforcing this message through the outreach efforts of their community service troopers, and Safe Kids Coalitions across the state are working in their communities to increase awareness.

For more information and safety tips about preventing child heatstroke deaths, visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.

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