Heatstroke Awareness Day - July 31

How to Save a Child on Heatstroke Awareness Day

Over the last 20 years, nearly 800 children in the United States have died of heatstroke in vehicles. To help save children across the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared July 31 National Heatstroke Awareness Day.

Why do we need a day to be aware of heatstroke?

When children are exposed to high levels of heat, they can suffer heatstroke which can lead to permanent health problems – brain damage, blindness, hearing problems - or even death. Although that sounds extreme, dozens of children around the United States die every year from being left in a car during hot weather.

And sometimes the weather doesn’t have to be hot. In just 10 minutes a car can heat up to deadly temperatures – even when the weather outside is a pleasant 60 degrees. This can happen when the car is in the shade and even if the window is left partially open. Children’s bodies overheat faster than adult bodies, which makes them particularly vulnerable.

You may wonder: Why would a parent or caregiver leave a child in a vehicle? Well, often they don’t. To children, cars look like great big toys. They may climb inside thinking they are going on a great imaginary adventure, and accidentally get locked inside. The sad reality, though, is that in almost half of all cases where children die of heatstroke in a vehicle, parents or caregivers have inadvertently forgotten their child is in the back seat – until it is too late.

What you can do to save a child from heatstroke

The good news is that death or injury due to heatstroke is totally preventable. The first step is to understand the dangers, which you already do. And the next step is to take action.

That’s why the NHTSA has set a Heatstroke Awareness Challenge so that you can help spread the word – and help save children. Visit their website for details and help to get the word out!

7 Keys to Prevent Heatstroke in Kids

  1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended
  2. Keep your keys in a safe place that children don’t have access to
  3. Always check your vehicle – front seat and back – when leaving
  4. Always keep vehicle doors locked when not in use
  5. Never let children use a vehicle as a playground
  6. Be aware that partially opened windows will not allow enough air flow to cool a vehicle
  7. Educate your child about the dangers of playing in the vehicle
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