JACKSON, MISS. – Cranking up the air conditioning is an immediate reaction for most people stepping into a vehicle during the blazing Mississippi summer months. No one should remain in a vehicle to endure the stifling summer heat; however, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) would specifically like to remind drivers to take care of young passengers who are particularly susceptible to heatstroke injury or death.
Hyperthermia is a condition in which the body’s core temperature rises greatly above normal. If left untreated for too long, hyperthermia can lead to heatstroke, which can affect brain cells and cardiac rhythms, causing permanent injury, such as vision or hearing loss, or death. Nationwide an average of 30 children die each year as a result of being left in a vehicle, making heatstroke one of the top causes for child deaths.
“On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to deadly levels in a matter of minutes, even if the windows are left cracked open,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “It’s important to know that children are much more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child dies.”
While this problem is often blamed on irresponsible parenting, MDOT wants to remind everyone that even the best parents have had children experience a heatstroke. In a majority of heatstroke cases, a child was mistakenly left behind by a caregiver who was not accustomed to having a child with them as a part of their normal routine. In other cases, a child climbed into a car and became trapped, because the car door was unlocked and the vehicle left unattended.
Here are a few tips MDOT suggests to prevent heatstroke deaths in hot cars:
Heatstroke can happen quickly, but it’s 100 percent preventable. MDOT urges Mississippians to protect children by taking preventative measures to keep them out of hot cars, and always remember to #Checkforbaby and look before you lock your vehicle.
To learn more about the dangers of leaving children in vehicles on hot summer days, visit MDOT’s YouTube playlist entitled “Kids in Hot Cars,” or follow MississippiDOT on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.