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New York State Offers Guidance to Prevent Heatstroke Ahead of Weekend Warm up

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 20, 2022

 

NEW YORK STATE OFFERS GUIDANCE TO PREVENT HEATSTROKE AHEAD OF WEEKEND WARM UP

An Outside Temperature in the Mid-60s Can Cause a Vehicle’s Inside Temperature to Rise Above 110 Degrees Fahrenheit

A Child's Body Temperature Rises Three to Five Times Faster Than an Adult's

As temperatures are expected in the high 80s to above 90 degrees this weekend across the state, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services are reminding New Yorkers to use extra caution and never leave children, vulnerable adults, or pets alone in a vehicle.

Temperatures can rise quickly, even with the windows left partially open. Sadly, each year, children die after being left unattended in a motor vehicle but following a few simple steps can help prevent these needless tragedies.

“These cases are so heartbreaking because often times they are entirely preventable,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner, and GTSC Chair. “Parents are busy and many of you are juggling more than ever and dealing with more distractions than ever, so setting up a routine to remind yourself to always check the back seat for your children is critically important.”

New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said, "Children, pets and hot cars are a deadly combination because the temperature inside a car can quickly rise and children and pets can die from heatstroke in matter of minutes. Parents and guardians should never leave a child or a pet alone in a hot car even if the windows are rolled down."

Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “We know that a disrupted routine is a primary risk factor for accidentally leaving a child in a car. Some people’s routines are still disrupted due to the pandemic, making it more important than ever to check the back seat. Put something there that you need: keys, your purse or briefcase, or your cell phone to help you remember to look before you lock. Doing so could save a child’s life.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 23 children died last year after being left in hot cars. Since 1998, there have been 906 such fatalities in the United States.

A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s. Even in cooler temperatures, a vehicle can heat up to a dangerous degree very quickly. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees, enough to kill a child left alone inside.  An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NHTSA.

A child may be attracted to a car as a place to play, and they may not understand the dangers an enclosed car can present or how to open the doors if they lock.

NHTSA provides guidance for parents, caregivers, and passersby on how to prevent a child from suffering heatstroke.

Parents and Caregivers 

  1. Never leave a child or vulnerable adult in a vehicle unattended — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running, and the air conditioning is on.
  2. Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to Park, Look, Lock, or always ask yourself "Where's Baby?".
  3. Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat, as another reminder to look before you lock.
  4. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger's seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
  5. Ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected. 

Everyone — Including Bystanders

  1. If you see a child or vulnerable adult alone in a locked car, get them out immediately and call 911. A person in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
  2. Always lock your car doors and trunk, year-round, so children can’t get into unattended vehicles.
  3. Store car keys out of a child's reach and teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.

Pets too can suffer or die if left unattended in a vehicle. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion after being left in parked vehicles.

If you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, the Humane Society advises to call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately. You should get the vehicle’s license plate number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car. You should then go back and wait for police at the vehicle.

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