Plentiful rainfall has kept this summer from being as hot as in years past, but doctors say they're still seeing cases of children suffering from heat stroke because they've been left in hot cars.
Pediatric critical care physician Elizabeth Mack with Palmetto Health Children's Hospital says, “The temperature is basically magnified inside the car and it doesn't have to be hot at all. In fact, there have been children that have died of heat stroke left in cars where the outside temperatures were in the low 60s and even the high 50s”
Mack says children are particularly susceptible because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's does. And in just 10 minutes, a car's interior temperature can rise by 19 degrees, causing a child's body temperature-regulating system to become overwhelmed.
“Which is different than, for example, a fever.,” Mack explains. “Fevers can be pretty high but the temperature in the air outside of them is not that high so they can cool off a little bit by the air around them; whereas, in these cases, the air around them is extremely hot and so they really can't cool off at all.”
Mack says leaving a window open or the car running with the air conditioning on could endanger the child even more.
She says any parent can make the mistake of leaving a child in a hot car because of distraction or exhaustion from from child care and work.
Mack suggests to help you remember the child is along, write yourself a note and put it where you'll see it when you leave the vehicle.
Or, you might keep an object in the car seat such as a stuffed toy.
Also, you can place something else you'll need near the child – like a wallet, purse or phone.