As temperatures warm up, the Midland Police Department and Safe Kids Texas Heatstroke Task Force would like to remind residents of the importance of not leaving children alone in the car.
In 2013, there were at least 44 deaths of children in vehicles across the U.S., 39 of which have been confirmed as heatstroke and five of which, based upon the known circumstances, were most likely due to heatstroke. Five of the confirmed heatstroke deaths occurred in Texas.
"Unfortunately, no one is immune to this kind of tragedy," said MPD Sgt. Craig Matthews. "Parents and caregivers can easily avoid deaths and near-misses by simply leaving an important item, such as their cell phone or briefcase, in the back seat with their child."
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a condition that occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Symptoms may include dizziness, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty.
A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs start to shut down. The situation can become fatal at 107 degrees.
The interior of a car can be hotter than the temperature outside even on cloudy days, and even when a window is cracked. In just 10 minutes, a car's interior temperature can increase by 19 degrees. The inside of a closed car can quickly exceed 100 degrees on an 80-degree day.
In addition to leaving a child in the car, children can gain entry into a car because the trunk or the doors are open. Once children get inside, they can be quickly overcome by heat and not know how to problem-solve and climb out. People with kids should check to be sure everyone is out of the car before they lock it and make sure the car is locked each and every time. People without kids should also lock their doors and trunks to keep neighborhood kids from climbing into their vehicles. If a child goes missing, caregivers are asked to remember to check a pool first, and then look in cars and trunks.
Other tips offered by law enforcement include:
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
Keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own. Make sure your key chain is not within a child's reach.
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 that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.###
Media Contact: MPD Sgt. Crag Matthews