The 2011 Heat Wave is not abating, and along with the federal government taking steps to fight against the increasing dangers to workers (as we discussed last week), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just announced that it will be convening a “roundtable” with representatives from the nation’s top automakers, safety advocates, and consumer groups to discuss the growing problem of children dying from being left in cars outside in this hot weather.
So far this year, 21 children have perished from preventable, heat-related deaths
According to NHTSA research, hyperthermia is the leading cause of vehicle deaths for children under 14 years old other than car crashes. Hyperthermia is defined as “overheating of the body.”
“These twenty-one deaths were tragic and preventable – not one of those children should have lost their lives in this horrible way,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We need to do everything we can to remind people to be vigilant and never leave a child alone in or around a motor vehicle.”
Consider the following facts regarding heat exposure provided by San Francisco State University:
- Heatstroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees F and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed.
- Symptoms include : dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat, hallucinations.
- A core body temperature of 107 degrees F is considered lethal as cells are damaged and internal organs shut down.
- Children’s thermo-regulatory 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.
49 Children Died from Hyperthermia in 2010
Statistics reveal that 49 children under the age of 14 years died last year from hyperthermia, and it’s expected that this number will be higher in 2011, given the extended heat wave that the country is experiencing.
The goal of the precedent-setting national meeting set up by NHTSA is to address what experts are considering an immediate, serious threat to the country’s children, hopefully by a coordinated public awareness campaign and other educational efforts to let parents, caretakers, and members of the community know more about the very real risk of hyperthermia to youngsters.
Please consider this post as a contribution by Kenneth J. Allen & Associates to this campaign to increase public awareness of the dangers of children dying in cars – especially this year, when much of the United States is having to deal with record-breaking high temperatures, day after day.