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It seems like every day we hear about a child being left in a hot car. What steps can be taken to prevent this from happening?

Nashville, Ark. – It seems like every day we hear about a child being left in a hot car. According to KidsAndCars.org, a child dies every nine days from heat stroke after being left in the car. How can this be possible?

            You are probably saying, “I would never do that.” “This only happens with terrible parents.” However, most the hot car deaths that occur each year are of children who were forgotten in the car, or who got in without their parent’s or caregiver’s knowledge and got trapped. All it takes is for you to be out of your routine. You get busy and distracted and as bad as it sounds, you forget.

            There are other situations that can happen. A young child might sneak out to play in a car, accidentally locking themselves inside, or often parents will step out of the car briefly because they do not want to wake a sleeping infant. Both situations can be potentially devastating when young children are involved. It takes less than 20 minutes for a car to heat up to more than 120 degrees. On a hot summer day, like the ones we have had lately, it takes even less time.

            Children sweat and overheat, just like an adult in a hot place. As their body temperature rises, their systems can’t regulate their temperature anymore, and they will feel dizzy, sluggish, disoriented and may have seizures. They will stop sweating and eventually lose consciousness. When they reach 107 degrees Fahrenheit, their bodies start to shut down, and they will have permanent damage or die very quickly. This happens within just a few minutes, especially for babies.

            The younger the child, the faster heatstroke can occur, anywhere from three to five times faster than an adult. Small bodies are not as good as regulating their body temperature. This puts them at risk of heat stroke in a very brief time in a hot car.

            Despite the high number of car-related heat deaths each year, it can be prevented. How? Look before you lock! If you care for young children, make it a habit of always checking the backseat. Never leave a child in the car unattended. You may think you’re only going for a second, and the leaving the windows cracked or open will be enough. It’s not. It’s like putting the child in an oven.

            Other tips for preventing leaving a child in the car include:

  • Leave an item you would miss (such as a purse or phone) in the backseat to ensure you will check.
  • Have your childcare provider call you if your child does not show up when they are expected to.
  • Install a mirror that allows you to see a child in a rear-facing car seat.
  • If you are out of your routine put in extra precautions such as setting an alarm on your phone to alert you when the child should be dropped off at daycare.

            No one wants to cause injury to a child, especially heat stroke from being left in a hot car. Take extra care to ensure the safety of your precious cargo!

            For more information on summertime safety, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great salad recipe that was prepared at the recent Mediterranean Diet Cooking School. It uses lots of fresh produce and is delicious!

Greek Salad

¾ pound tomatoes, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)

2 cups diced seeded peeled cucumber (about 1 large)

1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1 large)

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives or other black olives, halved

¼ cup diced red onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)

            Toss first 9 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Gently mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 4 ½ cups (8 servings)

*Note can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature a few minutes before serving. Goes great with kebabs.

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories-85, Fat-7g, Carbohydrates-5g, Fiber-1 g, Protein-2 g, Sodium-96 mg. High in Vitamin C!

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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