Protect children from heatstroke

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the Michigan Department of State are working to raise awareness about the dangers of heatstroke and offering ways to prevent such tragedies. The State of Michigan has proclaimed today as Heatstroke Prevention Awareness Day.

Since 1998, there have been 794 deaths of children from heatstroke nationwide, with 10 of those deaths in Michigan. Last year in the United States, 51 children died in vehicles, a 19-percent increase from 2017. Heatstroke is the leading cause of vehicular non-crash related deaths for children under 14.

“Heatstroke deaths among young children are 100 percent preventable,” said Michael L. Prince, director of OHSP. “It’s important to remind parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke as we work together to save lives and raise awareness.”

Children die alone in a vehicle for several reasons: 54 percent were forgotten by a caregiver; 26 percent of children gained access to unattended vehicles and became trapped; and 18 percent were intentionally left by an adult.

“Temperatures inside a vehicle can become life threatening very quickly,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Caregivers should never leave a child alone in a vehicle and always check the back seat before you get out. No child should die of heatstroke in a vehicle.”

Parents and caregivers are asked to A.C.T together to keep children safe:

Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving children alone in a car, even for a few minutes. Always lock doors and the trunk. Keep keys and key fobs out of reach.

Create reminders. Place something needed at the next stop, like a bag or cell phone, next to the car seat or booster as a reminder.

Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, take action. Call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond in these situations.

The National Heatstroke Prevention campaign starts May 27 and runs through Aug. 11. For more information on ways to prevent heatstroke and for helpful tools and tips, go to: https://www.safekids.org/take-action-prevent-heatstroke#care

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