July Is National Heatstroke Prevention Month

July 06, 2023

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According to NoHeatStroke.org, 949 children have died due to vehicular heatstroke since 1998. Yet, all these deaths could have been prevented. The number of child hot car deaths for 2021 was 23. In 2022, 33 deaths were reported, and so far in 2023, nine deaths have been reported. On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Nearly every state has experienced at least one death since 1998. In both 2018 and 2019, a record number of 53 children died after being left in a hot vehicle.

It only takes a few minutes to save a life. In today’s world of technology and multitasking, it is easy to lose track of time or make a costly mistake. Even on a cool day, a vehicle can reach dangerous temperatures quickly. In only 10 minutes the inside of a car can climb 20 to 30 degrees, even with the windows cracked.

The Denver Health Trauma and Injury Prevention Program would like to offer 10 easy things you can do to keep your child safe:

  1. Never leave a child or pet alone in a car, not even for a few minutes. If it’s too hot for baby in the car, it’s too hot for your pet.
  2. If your child is missing, check your pool first, then your vehicle (including the trunk!). Check your neighbors’ pools and vehicles second.
  3. Arrange to have your child care provider contact you when your child doesn’t show up that day. Make sure they have multiple contact numbers to call/text and that they keep calling until they reach a live person.
  4. Always keep all vehicles LOCKED, even when they are in the garage and keep your keys/key fobs out of reach.
  5. Keep your wallet/purse AND cellphone in the back seat when you are driving.
  6. Another option put one shoe in the back seat when you are driving; you’re not going to walk away from your vehicle without your other shoe!
  7. Make it a habit to always look in the back seat when getting out of the car.
  8. Teach your children that it’s NEVER OK to play in the car or to go into the car to get something without a grown-up.
  9. Teach your children NEVER to hide in the car or inside the trunk.
  10. Teach your children to blow the horn repeatedly to attract attention if they are ever trapped inside a vehicle.

If you see a child alone in a car:

  • If the child is not responsive or in distress call 911 or alert nearby authorities. Do what you must do to get the child out of the car. Use cool water to lower their body temperature.
  • If the child is responsive, stay with them until authorities arrive. Have someone else try to find the driver or send out an announcement.
  • Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the parent to return to act. Good Samaritan laws in Colorado will protect you if you are acting in the best interest of the child or pet.

For additional information on heat stroke, please contact Injury Prevention at injuryprevention@dhha.org.