You've heard the story by now. It's tragic: a 3-year old boy dies after being locked all day in a car. Stories like this are reported far too often.
It doesn't take long for a small child left in a hot car to be in a life-threatening situation.
"Probably within 30 minutes, a child can rapidly progress into heat stroke and the body begins to shut down," explains Dr. Brian Stout, a pediatric emergency room doctor in Baton Rouge.
Over the summer, Stout treated several children who had been rushed to the ER in serious condition after being left in hot cars alone.
"If left untreated, [heat stroke] can progress to permanent brain damage or even death," he says.
With the windows up and the engine turned off, the temperature inside of a vehicle can rise from 80 degrees to just over 110 degree in as little as 10 minutes. Children are especially vulnerable to heat stroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than the bodies of adults.
Safe Kids USA® reports that at least 500 children have died in this country after being left in hot cars since 1998. The message is clear: never leave a child in a car unattended – especially in the heat.
If you see a child locked in a vehicle and can't get them out, Stout recommends that you call 911 immediately and notify them of the emergency.
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