Mo. EMS, fire commence campaign against leaving children in hot cars

More than half of children who’ve died from heat strokes in vehicles since 1998 were forgotten by their parents or caregivers

WEST COUNTY, Mo.  — With summer temperatures heating up, St. Louis fire and EMS agencies are reaching out to the public to prevent leaving children locked in hot cars. 

West County Fire and EMS has launched “Look Before You Lock” window clings as part of a country-wide campaign raising awareness of the danger of leaving children in cars. 

“I would just never leave a child in a car. I would never even consider it. If you have to go into a store or into the gas station, even if it’s just for 30 seconds or a minute you need to remove that child from the car … absolutely, look before you lock,” Westport County firefighter-paramedic Ken Cranmer said.

The campaign includes giving away clings that have a thermometer for parents and caregivers to keep track of how fast and hot vehicles heat up. 

Children are particularly at risk for heat stroke because their smaller bodies require less time to heat up. 

“Similar to if you’re heating a small pot of water on the stove versus a large pot of water,” Cranmer said.

There have been 12 child deaths in vehicles nationwide so far this year, according to More than half of children who’ve died from heat strokes in vehicles since 1998 were forgotten by their parents or caregivers.

A car’s temperature can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes; even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature in your car can reach 110 degrees. Child heat stroke has serious health consequences, and can cause severe injury or death. Once a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, it can be fatal. 

Symptoms of heat stroke include red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow, weak pulse, nausea and confusion or strange behavior. 

Some tips from that EMS agencies can share with their communities include always checking the back seats of the vehicle before locking it and walking away. As a visual reminder, keep a stuffed animal or memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat when your child is sitting in the back seat. If someone else is driving your child, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely. 

Check the West County Fire and EMS Facebook page if you’d like to get one of the clings.

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