Children and Hyperthermia
What is Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is the condition of having a body temperature greatly above normal.
Florida is a warm state. It is one of the characteristics that draw many people to Florida. It can also be a characteristic that is deadly for children. Heat stroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 104o F. The body’s thermoregulatory mechanism becomes overwhelmed and can no longer keep the body at the normal 98.6o F temperature. A core body temperature of 107 o F is considered lethal. Children's thermoregulatory systems are not as efficient as an adult's and their body temperatures warm at a rate 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.
Five Florida Children Died of Hyperthermia in 2016
Each of the five children died due to being in a hot vehicle for an extended period of time.
When sunlight enters a car, the windows may warm very little however, the objects inside the car can warm up very quickly. A dark seat or dashboard can reach 180 to 200 o F. This heat not only warms the object but it warms the air inside the car. In a vehicle heat study which was conducted, temperatures inside a car were found to rise 19 o F after just 10 minutes. That means that with an outside temperature of 80 o F the car’s interior temperature climbs to 99 o F after just 10 minutes. After 30 minutes the interior temperature rose to 114 o and after 60 minutes rose to 123 o degrees! Cracking the windows of the car had very little effect on the interior temperature. It would take a relatively short period of time for a child’s body temperature to climb to levels which can cause serious physical problems or even death.
So...what steps can be taken to protect our children from unnecessary harm?
· Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle (not even for “I’ll only be a minute!”).
· If a child is missing, always check the pool first, then the car, including the trunk
· Glance inside cars as you walk past. If you see a child left unattended in a car, call 911 immediately.
· Teach children that a car is not a play area.
· Lock your car and make sure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
· Use a trigger to remind yourself to check the back seat(s). Put something you have to take with you when you leave the car in the back seat, put a sticky note that says “Check the Back” someplace conspicuous in the front seat, make checking the back seat(s) a routine every time you leave the car.
· Notify the daycare or school if your child’s drop off or pick up routine changes.
· If the child is not dropped off as expected and the daycare/school does not hear from the parent, within 15 minutes they call the parent to make sure the child is supposed to be absent. This can be a critical trigger to check the back seats of the vehicle.
Awareness is the key to keeping our children safe!