By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
The Dog days of Summer have arrived. And the bad news it, it looks like more is in store this week with a long hot summer ahead.
Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle.
Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
Safety tips concerning children include but are not limited to:
Make sure your child’s safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. Always lock car doors and trunks— even at home—and keep keys out of children’s reach.
Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t leave sleeping infants in the car ever!
Put your purse, cell phone or wallet in the back seat as a reminder when you exit your vehicle
In addition to heat stroke, children left unattended in automobiles may also experience other types of injuries. For example, there are documented cases in which children left unattended in cars have put the vehicle in motion and hurt themselves and other people. Car-jacking and abductions that may occur when a child is left alone in a vehicle are also cause for concern.
For additional safety information contact your local fire department or law enforcement or visit http://www.caloes.ca.gov/ICESite/Pages/Summer-Heat-Resources.aspx