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LMHS educating people about dangers of leaving youngsters in vehicles

By Staff | Aug 3, 2011

Lee Memorial Health System began the “Never Leave Your Child Alone in the Car” campaign this summer to educate and equip parents with tools and tips they can use to keep their children safe.

The highest number of child vehicular heat stroke deaths occurred last year with 49 fatalities, six of which were in the state of Florida, according to KidsAndCars.org.

Texas, Florida, California and Arizona were the states with the most vehicular heat-related deaths last year.

In 2005, there were 47 vehicular heat stroke deaths, the second highest year. The fewest number of similar deaths occurred in 1992.

So far this year, there has been 23 child vehicular heat stroke deaths in the United States, two of which occurred in Florida.

A 1-year-old boy died Sunday in Cape Coral after reportedly being left in a vehicle. At about 12:45 p.m., the Cape Coral police received a report of a baby not breathing in the 4900 block of Vincennes Street. Prior to police arrival, the baby was taken to the Cape Coral Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

From 1998 to 2011, there have been at least 525 child vehicular heat stroke deaths involving youngsters as young as a few days old to a 14 year old.

To combat the number of vehicular deaths in Florida, the Lee Memorial Health System decided to provide parents with tips and tools they can use when they are in the car with their child.

The Children’s Hospital Child Safety Advocate Elizabeth Moreno said the Kids Safety Program provides parents with a two-piece thermometer that they can use in their car to tell them the temperature, along with a safety tip card.

Since there are two thermometers, she said parents can place the thermometer on the window near the child’s seat, on the car seat or on the dashboard to read the temperature inside of the car.

The thermometer can read up to 150 degrees.

The safety tip card, Moreno said, provides information about why a parent should never leave their child alone in the car.

To ensure a parent does not forget that they have their child with them, Moreno said they should place their briefcase, diaper bag, purse or any other item they will need before leaving the car near the car seat on the floor to remind them to take their child out of the car.

It is important not to leave a child in the car, Moreno said, because hyperthermia occurs in a child’s body three to five times faster than in adults.

“The child’s body is at a higher risk,” she said, “because the child’s body heats up faster than an adults.”

Moreno said when the body temperature reaches 100 degrees, internal organs shut down, and when the body reaches 107 degrees children can die.

When a vehicle is closed on a day that temperatures reach 80 degrees outside, it can reach 109 degrees inside of the car in 20 minutes, she said.

“In 20 minutes, a child left unattended can die,” Moreno said.

Moreno said saving a child in an unattended car is a community effort.

“If you happen to see a child unattended, I recommend you call someone. Get on the phone and you dial 9-1-1 immediately,” she said. “Don’t just walk away because you don’t know how long the child has been in there.”

“We as a community have to do our part as well,” she said.

Those who want to make an appointment to receive the thermometer, safety tips and a free car seat check can call 239-343-6199.