With summer just around the corner, the Imperial County Public Health Department’s (ICPHD) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency is sounding the alarm about the dangers of heatstroke. Shockingly, heatstroke is the leading cause of death for children outside of car crashes, as revealed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To combat this alarming statistic, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the El Centro Fire Department join forces each year with the ICPHD EMS Agency to raise awareness and educate parents and caregivers about the perils of leaving children in hot cars.
Robert Gonzalez, Public Information Officer at the El Centro Fire Department, emphasized the growing risks associated with rising outdoor temperatures. “As the mercury soars, the likelihood of children perishing from being left unattended in a sweltering vehicle also increases,” he cautioned. “What’s truly tragic is that a majority of these fatalities could have been avoided.”
Maria Peinado, Public Information Officer at the Imperial County Health Department, stressed the crucial importance of checking the backseat of a vehicle before locking up and leaving. “Under no circumstances should a child be left alone in a car, even if the engine is running and the air conditioner is on. Always remember to lock the car and place the keys out of reach to prevent children from becoming trapped and suffering heatstroke,” Peinado advised.
David Craigwell, Imperial County Emergency Medical Services Manager, highlighted the need to provide essential tips to the general public. “As we approach the summer months, heat exhaustion becomes increasingly common and poses a significant threat to our vulnerable population, particularly our children,” Craigwell cautioned.
Officer Arturo Platero Jr., Public Information Officer at the California Highway Patrol El Centro Area, emphasized the necessity of heightened awareness when it comes to protecting human life. “Life moves at a rapid pace, but we must always prioritize the well-being of our children and exercise caution while driving,” Platero stressed.
It’s worth noting that children’s bodies heat up five times faster than adults’, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. Alarmingly, heatstroke can occur even in temperatures as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. According to data from the NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing, 33 children lost their lives in 2022 due to heatstroke from being left in hot vehicles. On average, there have been 38 child heatstroke fatalities per year in the United States since 1998.
To aid parents in their efforts to prevent such tragedies, they can download the Kars4Kids Safety App. This app serves as a helpful tool to remind caregivers to check for their child before walking away from their vehicle, adding an extra layer of safety and peace of mind.