KDOT and Drive To Zero Coalition Urge Vigilance: Protect Children from Heatstroke in Vehicles

By Trish Svoboda

Children are at greater risk of heatstroke or death because their body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than those of adults, even on cooler summer days. Therefore, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), the Drive To Zero Coalition, and emergency responders remind parents and caregivers to never leave a child in a car.

According to KDOT Behavioral Safety Manager Gary Herman, there are three primary reasons that children suffer heatstroke in cars. He said, “First, don’t forget you have a child in the back seat of a car. Next, don’t leave a car unlocked even at home, where children may wander off and gain access to that car. And don’t knowingly leave a child in a car, thinking a cracked window or quick stop will be OK.”

From July 8-21, this safety information will be shared with the public to raise awareness about the dangers excessive heat poses to children. According to SAFE KIDS, a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle every 10 days on average. In over half of these cases, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car. A car can heat up by 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, and cracking a window does not help.

The National Safety Council said from 2019-2023 there were five child heatstroke deaths in vehicles in Kansas. In one of the cases, the death happened when the outside temperature was 59 degrees. All five of these children were 2 and under.

Developing habits is recommended to help avoid forgetting a child. Some tips include keeping a toy or stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s empty, and moving it to the front seat as a reminder, and leaving your phone, wallet, or purse in the back seat when a child is traveling with you.

If you see a child in a hot vehicle, check to make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, immediately call 911.

Learn more about protecting kids from heatstroke by visiting https://www.safekids.org/heatstroke and https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/safety-topics/child-safety/vehicular-heatstroke-prevention

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional