Hyperthermia Heat Stroke: Summer Heat Makes It Especially Dangerous to Leave Children or Pets in Cars.
Heat coming back again to our area and temperature up near 100 degrees the rest of the week and weekend. Across the country record Highs and Dangerous Temperatures continue throughout the entire United States. The risk of a serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children and pets left alone in vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned. New research shows that for children hyperthermia (heat-stroke) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths.
“Even with the windows rolled down two inches, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures on a hot summer day,” said Ronald Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator of NHTSA. “Children or pets should never be left alone in or around a motor vehicle, not even for a quick errand. Any number of things can go critically wrong in the blink of an eye.”
STATISTICS ON CHILD HYPERTHERMIA
• Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2012: 11
• Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 2011: 33
• Total number of U.S. hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars, 1998-present: 538
• An examination of media reports about the 538 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths for an thirteen year period (1998 through 2011) shows the following circumstances:
• 51% - child "forgotten" by caregiver (278 Children)
• 30% - child playing in unattended vehicle (154)
• 17% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (99)
• 1% - circumstances unknown (7)
What is hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is overheating of the body. The word is made up of "hyper" (high) + "thermia" from the Greek word "thermes" (heat). Hyperthermia is literally high heat. There are a variety of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Other heat-related health problems include heat cramps, heat rash and sunburn.
Summer can bring heat waves with unusually high temperatures that last for days and sometimes weeks. In the summer of 1980, a severe heat wave hit the United States, and nearly 1,700 people lost their lives from heat-related illness. Likewise, in the summer of 2003, tens of thousands of people died of the heat in Europe. High temperatures put people at risk. 2012 has been another record setting year with numerous days with high heat indexes. So far 11 children have lost their lives to hyperthermia.
What causes hyperthermia and heat-related illnesses?
People suffer heat-related illness when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures can damage the brain or other vital organs.
Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions that can limit the ability to regulate temperature include old age, obesity, fever (illness), dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug, and alcohol use.
Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:
• infants and children up to four years of age
• people 65 years of age or older
• people who are overweight
• people who overexert during work or exercise
• people who are ill or on certain medications
Infants and children up to four years of age are very sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently, and are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Overweight people may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
Any health condition that causes dehydration makes the body more susceptible to heat-related illness. If you or someone you know is at higher risk, it is important to drink plenty of fluids (water), avoid overexertion, and get your doctor or pharmacist's advice about medications being taken for:
• high blood pressure,
• mental illness,
• insomnia, or
• poor circulation.
Only 19 states have laws specifically addressing leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. The remaining 31 states do not have laws specifically against leaving a child unattended in a vehicle Currently only 1 state, Utah, has proposed legislation that would make it a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle Another 14 states have had previously proposed unattended child laws
Heatstroke occurs when a person's temperature exceeds 103 degrees F and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed
- Symptoms include: dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweating, loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations and death.
A core body temperature of 107 degrees F is considered lethal as cells are damaged and internal organs shut down 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.
VEHICLE HEATING DYNAMICS
The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively “transparent” to the sun’s shortwave radiation and are warmed little. However this shortwave energy does heat objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F.
These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, child seat) heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off long wave radiation (red) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.
HEAT STUDY CONCLUSIONS:
• Average elapsed time and temperature rise
• 10 minutes ~ 19 deg F
• 20 minutes ~ 29 deg F
• 30 minutes ~ 34 deg F
• 60 minutes ~ 43 deg F
• 1 to 2 hours ~ 45-50 deg F
• “Cracking” the windows had little effect
• Vehicle interior color probably biggest factor
• "Parents and other caregivers need to be educated that a vehicle is not a babysitter or play area ... but it can easily become tragedy"
• NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE!
• IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A HOT VEHICLE CALL 9-1-1.
• Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
• Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE POOL FIRST, AND THEN THE CAR, INCLUDING THE TRUNK. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
• Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.
• Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
• Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
• Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
• Don’t leave your pets in the car either!! Same affects can happen to them!
SAFETY FIRST, SAFETY ALWAYS!
Information provided by the NHTSA, NWS and ggweather.com