Summertime increases risk of heatstroke for children left in cars

Summertime increases risk of heatstroke for children left in cars

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana highway safety officials warn drivers to never leave children alone in a closed vehicle. Louisiana summers can turn that into a deadly situation in just minutes. Officials say on an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

"We've already seen at least two tragedies this summer where children died after adults accidentally forgot them in vehicles. Other accidents occur when children get into hot vehicles on their own," Louisiana Highways Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc said.

National statistics show there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children left in vehicles in 2014. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 53% of the cases, the child was "forgotten" by the caregiver.

"There are ways of preventing these tragedies. They involve a little extra time, but they will save lives," LeBlanc said.

Below are some tips from NHTSA:

* Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.

* Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car.

* ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

* Place something you'll need at your final destination, such as a cell phone, purse or briefcase, next to a child to avoid forgetting the child is in the rear seat.

Louisiana officials say bystanders can also help if they ever see a child alone in a vehicle. They offered the tips below:

* Always make sure the child is responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

* If the child appears okay, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility's security or management page the car owner over the public address system.

* If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while someone waits at the car.

* If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if it means breaking a window.

State highway safety officials say a child's body temperature can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult.

If you suspect a child is the victim of a heatstroke, try to cool the child quickly with a garden hose. Safety officials say NEVER put the child in an ice bath. You're also urged to call 911 immediately.

If someone is found guilty of leaving a child unattended in a car, Louisiana law says the crime is punishable by fines and possible by up to six months in jail.

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