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Deadly Heat

Summer Heat Safety

Never leave children, pets in parked cars

Hot fun in the summertime is a Florida tradition but it’s also a dangerous time for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 465 U.S. children died from heat stroke from 1998-2009 after being left inside a car.

Even the most diligent parents mistakenly think they can leave a child in a vehicle for a quick errand. However, with an outside temperature of 85 degrees, the air temperature inside a parked vehicle can reach a dangerous 120 degrees within 30 minutes, and nearly 150 degrees after a few hours.

“When left in a hot vehicle, a child’s core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, leading to seizures, multiple organ failure or even death in minutes,” says Dr. Maximo Luque, a pediatrician at St. Joseph’s Children’s Steinbrenner Emergency/Trauma Center. “And when substituting humid heat for dry heat, as is often the case in Florida, injury or death can occur in half the time.”

To help prevent heat stroke injury or fatalities, Dr. Luque has some tips.

Never leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle, even with a window slightly open.

Teach children not to play in, on or around vehicles.

Always lock your vehicle’s doors and trunk – especially at home – and keep keys out of children’s reach.

Contact emergency services if you see a small child who is unattended in a motor vehicle and in need of help.

Make sure all children leave the vehicle upon arrival at a destination. Be especially careful if transporting children on a specific day or time that is not part of your normal routine. In the case of infants that may be sleeping, get into the habit of placing a reminder where you’ll be sure to see it before leaving your vehicle. For example, place the diaper bag next to you or leave your purse, briefcase or lunch in the back next to the child’s seat.

Set your e-mail calendar or cell phone alarm to remind you that the baby should be at child care. Many tragedies have occurred because a caregiver drove to work instead of stopping at day care.

Visit for more information on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles.

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