Sheriff’s Office offers heat danger tips

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department reminds residents that children should never be left unattended in a vehicle — especially during a hot Arkansas summer

The hot weather in Arkansas this summer season has already seen several incidents of children being left in vehicles. The heat that builds up inside a closed vehicle builds up quickly to an unbearable level because of the greenhouse effect caused by the vehicle windows, the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

There is no safe amount of time to leave a child alone in a vehicle. Children are more susceptible and at higher risk for heat-related illness and injury than adults because their bodies produce more heat relative to their size and their ability to cool through sweating is not as developed as in adults.

As a result just a few minutes inside a hot vehicle can be extremely dangerous and even fatal for a child. On any given summer day when the temperatures are even slightly hot the temperature inside a vehicle increases rapidly. More importantly, more than half of the increase occurs in the first 30 minutes.

Every summer heartbreaking and preventable deaths happen when children are left alone in hot cars, trucks and vans.

Prevention tips

• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

• Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.

• Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.

• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away.

• If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.

• Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.

• Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.

• If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

• Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:

Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;

Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or

Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.

What you need to know

• Vehicles heat up quickly — even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes.

• Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under 4 years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness.

• Children’s bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult. Also, children are less able to lower their body heat by sweating. When a body cannot sweat enough, the body temperature rises rapidly.

• In fact, when left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult.

High Dangers of Extreme Heat

• Heat stroke may occur when body temperature passes 104 degrees Fahrenheit. That overwhelms the brain’s temperature

control, causing symptoms the following heatstroke symptoms: Warning signs vary but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, being grouchy, or acting strangely.

• Such a high body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.