NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Temperatures in Middle Tennessee will skyrocket Wednesday and Thursday as the Metro Public Health Department urges residents to keep safety first.
MPHD launched a heat stroke safety campaign that focuses on reminding parents and caregivers to not leave children in hot cars.
“A child, in particular, is going to feel very warm to touch. They’re going to be flush in their skin, their skin color will physically change, they’ll look a little bit redder. At that point though they are approaching that really high internal body temperature and the goal is to avoid kids overheating in the first place,” said D’Yuanna Allen-Robb, MPH, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Director.
All six of the stations around Metro Nashville where people can get their emissions are offering rearview mirror hangers with a reminder to “look before you lock.”
“We are all very busy, we have a lot going on in our personal lives and while many of us would say ‘oh my gosh I would never leave my child in the car’ it’s actually way more common than we think that it is,” she said. “We may just run to the grocery store for just a second or if you’re a new parent with a sleeping infant nobody wants to wake that baby.”
According to KidsAndCars.org, there were 10 hot car-related deaths involving children here in the U.S. so far this year, there were 26 in 2020, and 53 in 2019.
Another piece of advice is to follow the acronym ACT: “A” is about being “aware” – where is the child? The “C” is about creating reminders like putting your cell phone in the back seat of the car next to your child. The “T” stands for “take” so it’s about taking action if you see a child left in a vehicle.
Health officials say if you do notice someone is in distress because of a heat-related illness, you need to get them to help immediately by calling 9-1-1 or you can help them yourself.
“It is important to try to move them to an environment where their body temperature can cool down so you can physically take them out of a hot car and put them in a cold car where you have the air conditioning running, make sure you’re providing them with water so they’re able to rehydrate, using a cold compress, or you can pour some cold water onto a towel and put it on their head,” said Allen-Robb. “Surprisingly it doesn’t take long for symptoms of heatstroke to start. In some cases, it can be a matter of minutes, particularly if you’re physically exerting yourself so for adults, if you’re very physically active in the heat of the day, think noontime it literally can be within 10 to 15 minutes. For children, it can be much sooner.”
She says employers need to also be mindful of their employees who work outside – making sure to foster an environment where their safety is first, including frequent breaks out of the direct sunlight, proper breathable clothing, and access to a source for freshwater.
The Metro Office of Emergency Management also offered safety advice for residents during the intense heat.
AAA-The Auto Club Group also offered the following safety tips to help keep children safe:
- Don’t Leave Children Alone, Even for Short Amounts of Time – Never leave children unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are open or the air conditioning is running.
- Teach Children That Vehicles Are Not Play Areas – Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach your children that a vehicle is not an appropriate hiding spot in hide-and-seek.
- Keep Your Vehicle Locked – lock your vehicle doors and trunkeven in driveways and garages, and keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Make it a Habit to Check Your Vehicle– Before locking your vehicle and walking away, make it a habit to always check the front and back seats.
- Create Caregiver Reminders – If you normally drop your child off at a babysitter or daycare, ask the caregiver to call you if your child doesn’t show up as expected.
- Add Reminders in Your Vehicle– Put your purse, wallet or cell phone in the back seat. This way, you are reminded to look in the back seat before leaving the vehicle. You can also keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. When the child is with you, move it to the front seat as a reminder that your child is in the back.
- Call for Help – If you see a child or pet alone in a locked car, call 911 immediately and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.