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Preventing Vehicular Heat Deaths in Children

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 18 Jun 2013 07:18am | comments

Child Advocates and medical professionals are warning Mississippians about the dangers of leaving children inside a parked car where they can succumb to heat stroke.  Since 1998, more than 550 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when left unattended in a vehicle.

Norman Collins recalls the day his 3 month old grandson died of a heat stroke. He says in the rush to get to a Sunday worship service in Clarksdale a mix-up in communications left three adults thinking someone else had taken the baby to the church's nursery. He says the heartbreak of that day continues to haunt his family.

"The temperature was 93 degrees outside, and then he was in the car with the windows rolled up still buckled in his car seat.  Of course when services were over, his parents proceeded to the daycare center to pick him up and he was not there so they began to search and went to the car and that's where he was and apparently he had already succumbed but they took him to the emergency room and he was pronounced dead on arrival there," describes Collins.

Heatstroke may occur when body temperature passes 104 degrees Farenheit. That overwhelms the brains temperature control, causing symptoms such as diziness, disorentation, even death.  Jennifer Ford of Jackson says the first thing she does to protect her four year old son is to make sure she can see him through her rearview mirror.   

"So I know that he's definitely there, and when I get out of the car, I unbuckle him first and I put him next to the car where he is right now and just make sure he's with me right now," says Ford.

In 2011, one of the hottest years on record, 33 children died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. That's why Elizabeth Foster, Director of Safe Kids Mississippi reminds parents including dads and grandparents to create reminders.

"For instance, a mom can put her purse in the backseat, a cell phone, some parents we've found even go so far as putting a left shoe in the back there.  But put something back there that you need when you get out of the car so you'll always check your backseat before you get out," advises Foster.

Foster says if you see a child alone in a car, you should immediately dial 911, because that one call could save a life.  

 

 

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