Summer is nearly over, but high temperatures and heat advisories are still with us here in the Ozarks. Our Springfield personal injury lawyers want to remind you to take precautions to prevent heatstroke and hot car deaths in children - not just during the summer months, but all year round. Recently, national media outlets reported the tragic death of a 22-month old Georgia boy who was left in a vehicle by his father. After authorities investigated, they determined the father's actions were deliberate. The father, Justin Ross Harris, has since been indicted on three murder charges and seven other offenses.
Of course, the vast majority of hot car deaths are not caused by parents who intend to do harm to their children. Sadly, most cases of vehicle-related hyperthermia are accidental, and they're disturbingly common - this year alone, 26 children have died nationwide. In this post, we discuss some important facts about hot car deaths and provide a few simple tips to help you keep your children safe.
Facts about hot car deaths: What Missouri parents and caregivers need to know
- Since 1998, 619 children in the U.S. have died of heatstroke after being left unattended in vehicles, according to data compiled by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science. That's an average of 38 children every year.
- Roughly half of hyperthermia deaths happen when caregivers, often distracted, simply forget that a child is in their vehicle. About 30% occur when a child gets into a vehicle without a caregiver's knowledge and becomes trapped; 20% happen when a caregiver intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle.
- Children's body temperatures can rise three to five times more quickly than the body temperatures of adults. Heatstroke occurs when a person's body temperature reaches 104 degrees, causing symptoms like dizziness, disorientation, seizures, sluggishness, increased heart rate and loss of consciousness. A body temperature of 107 degrees or higher can prove to be fatal, as cells begin to suffer damage and internal organs begin to fail.
- A vehicle can heat up extremely fast, warming up by as much as 20 degrees within a 10 minute time frame. In fact, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to 110 degrees when the temperature outside is only in the 60s - and a vehicle occupant can experience hyperthermia when the temperature outdoors is as low as 57 degrees. Heatstroke deaths have occurred in 11 months out of the year.