CINCINNATI, Oh. (July 17, 2019) –Outside of crashes, heatstroke is the number one vehicle-related killer of children in the United States. AAA, in an attempt to prevent these deaths, reminds parents and caregivers about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars. In 2018, there were 52 preventable deaths of children in vehicles, a 21-percent increase from 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The number of child heatstroke deaths in recent years is tragic. These are the current national statistics as of July 17, 2019:
- Child heatstroke fatalities this year: 21
- Child heatstroke fatalities in 2018: 52
- Child heatstroke fatalities in 2017: 43
- National average of child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998: 38
- Total number of child heatstroke fatalities from 1998 - present: 816
“As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children dying from vehicular heatstroke increases,” said Jenifer Moore, spokesperson for AAA. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days in the United States from being left in a car or crawling into an unlocked vehicle. What is most tragic is that every single one of these deaths could have been prevented.”
AAA reminds all parents and caregivers that prevention is the best way to keep heatstroke at bay. Remember to ACT.
- Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child in a vehicle, even for a minute. Teach your children never to play in or around vehicles.
- Create reminders and habits that give you and any caregivers a safety net.
- Leave an important item – a purse, cell phone or wallet – in the rear seats, prompting you to check the back before locking the doors and walking away.
- Arrange for your day care provider to call you if your child is unexpectedly absent.
- Always check in with your spouse after day care drop off, particularly when there’s a change in routine.
- Take action if you see an unattended child or pet in a vehicle. Dial 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:
- Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.
- If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.
- If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.
- If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window—many states, including Ohio, have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency.
Heat Stress and Vehicles
Extreme heat exacts a toll on vehicles, especially over an extended period of time. AAA recommends motorists make sure their vehicles are prepared for the summer months. The AAA Roadside Rescue Team has responded to nearly 1,600 requests for roadside assistance since Monday. AAA expects the call count to increase for service requests related to dead car batteries and flat tires that succumb to the extreme heat.
Preventive Summer Vehicle Maintenance Tips
- Batteries - Heat kills batteries. Make sure you have a strong battery that is up to the challenge by having your battery tested.
- Tires - Keep your tires at normal pressure. Soft tires generate heat, which can lead to a blowout.
- Fluids - Check all fluids including the coolant level in the overflow tank and top off as needed. If the engine is cool, check the level in the radiator as well. Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot, you can be seriously scalded.
- Coolant - Motorists should have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the type of coolant used, this is typically necessary every two to five years.
AAA offers free car battery and tire pressure checks to ensure motorists’ vehicles are road ready for the remainder of summer.
Just as motorists prepare an emergency kit for their cars during winter driving conditions, they should also make preparations for the summer driving conditions. Back-ups and delays caused by things like vehicle crashes can result in drivers being stranded along highways for extended periods of time. Summer’s heat can cause dangerous conditions for those stranded without shade.
AAA offers tips to keep drivers and passengers safe:
- Carry a minimum of five bottles of water for each person in the vehicle. Also it’s important to have a fully charged cell phone and car charger. Drivers should also have coolant with them.
- If traffic is not moving do not use the accessory setting to listen to the radio, or use any other devices that could drain the car battery.
- While running the air conditioner drivers should keep an eye on the dash and if the vehicle starts to overheat, shut it off immediately and open the hood to allow the engine to cool off. The vehicle may need to be off for a minimum of 45 minutes. When restarting the vehicle leave the hood open.
- If you cannot operate the vehicles air conditioning, open windows on both sides of the car to cross ventilate.
- Carry a windshield sun shade in your vehicle to provide some protection from the sun.
- Staying in your vehicle is usually the safest option. If however the heat becomes too oppressive and traffic shows no signs of moving, consider seeking shelter in the shade. If there are trees or an overpass nearby that would provide shade, take a break and give your body time to cool off.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 59 million members nationwide and nearly two and a half million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.