Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: July 9, 2013
HEAT CAN KILL: NEVER LEAVE A CHILD IN A CAR
Children left inside vehicles during high summer temperatures are in real danger. Two children in Maryland and two in Virginia
recently died from being left in parked vehicles. Delaware's Division of Public Health reminds drivers that they are key to
Even with the windows cracked open, a car's interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10
minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 50 percent of the children who died from heat
stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle, according to San Francisco State
University. Thirty percent of kids who died from hyperthermia were left unattended by an adult or gained entry into an unlocked
vehicle and became trapped and overcome by heat. It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent
injury in a hot car.
Take the following steps to protect children:
- Call 911 if a child is seen unattended in a vehicle.
- Never leave children alone in a car - even for one minute.
- Drivers should keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children.
- Set a cell phone, Blackberry or computer reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
- Place a necessity - a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase - on the floor in front of your child in the back seat. This will force
you to open the back door.
- Have a plan with your child care provider to call if your child does not arrive when expected.
- Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.
- Here are tips we can all take to prevent heat illness:
- Carry water with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks containing sugar, alcohol and
caffeine, which dehydrate the body. (Check with a doctor before increasing fluid intake if you have epilepsy, heart, kidney or
liver disease, or if you are on a fluid-restrictive diet. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.)
- Stay indoors as much as possible during extreme temperatures. Stay on the lowest floor possible to avoid the heat.
- Wear lightweight, light colored clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella. Use sunscreen. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to
cool itself, and has been linked to skin cancer.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cold shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can lead to hypothermia,
particularly for the elderly and children.
Heed the following heat danger warnings signs and take suggested actions: Heat cramps occur in the muscles of the limbs or abdomen
occurring during or after physical activity in high heat. Sweating results in loss of fluids and salts that cause muscle cramps.
Address heat cramps by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water. Heat exhaustion is more severe, occurring when a
person is overheated along with reduced or unbalanced intake of fluids. Symptoms may include:
- clammy skin
- nausea and/or vomiting
- hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
Take these steps for heat exhaustion:
- Move person indoors or into shade
- Loosen or remove clothing
- Encourage the person to eat and drink
- Get person to a cool shower or bath
- Call your doctor for further advice
Heatstroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself. Prompt medical treatment is required. Overdressing and time spent in hot
vehicles can lead to heatstroke. Symptoms may include:
- flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating
- high body temperature (above 103 degrees F, orally)
- severe, throbbing headache
- weakness, dizziness, or confusion
- sluggishness or fatigue
- decreased responsiveness
- loss of consciousness
Take these steps for heat stroke:
- Call 911.
- Get the person indoors or into shade.
- Get person to a cool shower or bath.
- Give fluids.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health
and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.