Park. LOOK. Lock.

Posted 6/23/2022 in Public Health

Brought to you by Delaware County Public Health

5 children in the United States have died this year and 912 since 1998 due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke. Every death was preventable. According to the National Safety Council, 52.6% of these deaths happened because their caregiver forgot them in the vehicle. 

Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. Keep in mind that in just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees and become deadly. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, their body temperature rises in a quick and deadly manner. When the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees, their bodies cannot regulate the temperature. 

“Unfortunately, even great parents can forget their children in the back seat. We are all very busy with many things on our minds,” shares Krystle DeShaw, Delaware County Public Health Supervisor. “This is why awareness and education is so important. Always park, LOOK in your back seat, and then lock up. Maybe keep your purse or important things in the back seat - forcing yourself to look in that direction every time before leaving your vehicle.”

Prevention Tips:

  • Park, LOOK, Lock, or always ask yourself, ‘Where’s Baby’? Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat, as another reminder to look before you lock. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger's seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat. Learn more at nhtsa.gov/campaign/heatstroke.
  • Keep your vehicle locked and keys out of reach of children. Nearly 3 in 10 pediatric heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
  • TAKE ACTION if you notice a child alone in a car! Protecting children is everyone’s business–even when that child may not be yours.

If you find an unattended child in a locked vehicle:

  • Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return
  • If the child is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
    - Call 911
    - Get the child out of the car
    - Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath)
  • If the child is responsive:
    - Stay with the child until help arrives
    - Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them

Warning signs of heatstroke:

  • Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
  • No sweating
  • Strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or strange behavior

For more information about heat stroke prevention, visit NoHeatStroke.org, nhtsa.gov/campaign/heatstroke, or call Delaware County Public Health at 563-927-7551.