Safety

A.C.T. to prevent hot car risks

Rene Hopkins
Written by Rene Hopkins

More than 500 children have died since 1998 after being left or becoming trapped in a motor vehicle.

“Heat is more dangerous to kids than adults,” said Rene Hopkins, a nurse educator and coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. A locked car in the summer sun quickly becomes an oven.”

Temperatures inside a vehicle on a warm day can climb from 78 to 100 degrees in three minutes and to 125 degrees in just six minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“At those temperatures, kids are at great risk for heat stroke, which can lead to a high fever, dehydration, seizures, and death,” Hopkins said.

Safe Kids urges parents, caregivers, and bystanders to A.C.T. to prevent hot car dangers:

  • Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Also, make sure to keep your car locked when not in use, so kids can’t get inside and become trapped.
  • Create reminders when transporting children, so they are not left in the vehicle. For instance, place something in the back of the car next to your child, such as a briefcase or purse that will be needed at your destination. “This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine,” Hopkins said.
  • Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations. “They’d much rather respond to a false alarm than a fatality,” Hopkins said.

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, call 706-721-7606, or visit augustahealth.org/safekids.

About the author

Rene Hopkins

Rene Hopkins

A registered nurse educator, Rene Hopkins is responsible for establishing and maintaining childhood injury prevention programs through grant writing, research and data collection, community partnerships, education, legislation advocacy, and distribution of safety equipment. She coordinates more than a dozen monthly Safe Kids programs in the Greater Augusta area to educate parents and caregivers, including Safe Sitter, Car Seat Classes, Youth Firesetters Prevention Intervention, and Cribs for Kids.