So far this year, at least seven children have died nationwide from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition in which the body fails to regulate its own temperature so it continues to rise. On average, a child dies every ten days as a result of heatstroke in a vehicle.
Dr. Erik Schobitz, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, says there is no safe amount of time to leave your child in the car. He notes that though it may be 70 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature in the car can be as high as 120 degrees.
Dr. Schobitz says that since children’s bodies are smaller than adult’s, they heat up five times as fast.
Parents should set ‘reminders’ in order to avoid accidentally leaving a child in the car. This can include putting an item such as a purse, wallet or cell phone next to the child in the backseat.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Confusion, severe restlessness or anxiety.
- Fast heart rate.
- Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped.
- Skin that may be red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits.
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
If your child is experiencing symptoms, seek medical help and call 9-1-1 immediately.
Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is home to Montgomery County’s first full-service emergency department for kids. Today, the pediatric emergency department is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week and provides care to approximately 21,000 children annually.
For more information on heatstroke and other summer safety tips for children, listen to Dr. Schobitz’s recent interview with WTOP Radio (103.5 FM).