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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local North Carolina Records First Child Death from Overheating in a Vehicle Since 2009

North Carolina Records First Child Death from Overheating in a Vehicle Since 2009

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reminds parents to exercise vigilance to keep children out of unattended vehicles following the death this month of a 2-year-old Burke County child.

RALEIGH, N.C. : June 28, 2012 - The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reminds parents to exercise vigilance to keep children out of unattended vehicles following the death this month of a 2-year-old Burke County child.
This is the first such child death from hyperthermia in North Carolina since 2009.
July is the peak time of year for child deaths in hot vehicles, officials say.
According to a report released last week by the North Carolina Child Fatality Prevention Team, there were 19 deaths of children in hot vehicles between 1999 and 2009.
There were no deaths in 2010 or 2011. The report concludes that most of the deaths occurred when children accessed a vehicle on their own or with other young children.
Other circumstances included children forgotten in the vehicle by a caregiver or intentionally left in the vehicle while a caregiver ran an errand. “This is a tragic reminder for parents to be vigilant in ensuring that a child is never in a vehicle alone,” DHHS Secretary Al Delia said. “Cars are not places for children to play.”
"The unfortunate thing is that these tragedies are completely avoidable," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, state chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. "By taking simple steps, we can help one another prevent the tragedy of child heat stroke."
The danger of vehicular hyperthermia in children in North Carolina spreads from March through November due to the subtropical climate. Hyperthermia can occur even on days with mild 70-degree temperatures. The temperature in a closed vehicle can rise about 20 degrees in 10 minutes and nearly 30 degrees in 20 minutes. Cracking a window has little effect.
Here's what parents and caregivers can do to prevent tragedies:
• Lock Vehicles and Trunks. Thirty percent of recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicles to assure that kids don’t enter and become trapped. Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.
• Create Reminders.Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
• Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
• Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to drop your child off at day care. Check out the Baby Reminder application at bit.ly/zxcdty which automatically monitors and determines when you are driving and when you’re not.
• Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop baby off at daycare today?” Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes.
• Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.
• Get Involved. Free educational materials are available at www.Safekids.org or by searching online for "Never Leave your Child Alone." Post them at your child care center, place of business, church — let's help each other prevent further tragedies!
And if you see an unattended child in a vehicle:
•  Take Immediate Action and Dial 911.The body temperature of children rises 3 - 5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Law enforcement and EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble and can take action to remove the child.
Safe Kids North Carolina reaches out to parents, caregivers and children to prevent childhood injuries through 38 Safe Kids Coalitions working in 66 counties. For more information, visit www.ncsafekids.org or www.safercar.gov.