Beating the heat
With the temperatures rising and the first day of summer right around the corner, the danger of heat-related deaths is on the rise.
Because of this danger, Safe Kids of Rutherford County is launching a “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car,” campaign with the goal of educating community members and reducing the number of child deaths in cars and trucks caused by heat stroke.
“We’ve been doing the campaign for a couple summers now. Each year, we’ve done a little more with it and tried to make a little more awareness in the county,” said Chris Burley, Safe Kids coordinator.
According to a Safe Kids press release, seven children throughout the country have died from heat stroke in a hot vehicle as of May of this year.
“A young child does not have the body surface that an adult has. Your body surface is what helps you cool your body. The more surface area you have and the more sweat glands that produce sweat helps you stay cool,” Burley said. “It’s the same with the amount of fluid that is in your body. A child does not have near the same amount of fluid that an adult has. That’s another cooling process of the body. So when you take a child and their body size, they cannot handle that rapid temperature increase like an adult can.”
In November of 2006, three siblings from Shiloh died of heat-related causes. The young children locked themselves in their mother’s car. Although it was 78 degrees outside, the temperature inside the car was estimated at 100 degrees.
“Child deaths from heat stroke have occurred as early as February and with an outside temperature as low as 57 degrees,” Burley said. “We are mobilizing now to help get information out to parents and caregivers. On a day where it’s 75 degrees a vehicle can still get over 100 degrees on the inside. It can be a beautiful day but if you’re stuck in a car it can be a death trap.”
Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis said that community members can do their part in helping to prevent deaths caused by children being left in vehicles.
“If there is not anyone around like a responsible adult that can take care of the child, you certainly need to contact law enforcement to let us look into the situation. That case in 2006 when we lost three children, it was very sad and could have been prevented,” Francis said. “The main thing is to realize it’s a serious and potentially hazardous situation and to go ahead and take it upon yourself to do the right thing and make the call to law enforcement so we can do our jobs and assist. My main thought that I would like to convey to everyone is to go ahead and intervene. Don’t wait on somebody else to make the call.”