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'Look before you lock': Driscoll Children's Hospital reminding parents of heatstroke dangers as weather heats up

Saturday, May 1, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As the weather heats up, Driscoll Children’s Hospital is urging all parents to remember the danger of heatstroke when children are left unattended in vehicles.

Saturday, May 1, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. Since 1998, almost 900 children have died from being left in hot cars nationwide. In 2020, there were 24 child heatstroke fatalities in the United States.

On average, 39 children die each year from heatstroke while alone in a hot vehicle. About half of these deaths are the result of a caregiver unintentionally leaving a child in the vehicle. The rest are children who either were intentionally left alone by an adult or are children who gained access to an unlocked vehicle and got trapped inside. 

"These heartbreaking incidents can happen to anyone and are completely preventable," said Karen Beard, Injury Prevention Training Coordinator at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. 

"A vehicle can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes and it does not have to be the middle of the summer. Many of these tragedies have occurred on mild days. That's why everyone needs to realize the importance of calling 911 as soon as you see a young child in a vehicle," she said. 

“Look before you lock,” Beard said. “It’s as simple as that, but too often parents are in a hurry and don’t remember to do so.” 

Anecdotal evidence and limited data sources suggest there are thousands of "near misses" each year when caregivers return just in time. 

Beard is asking everyone to help protect kids by remembering to ACT:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

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