As the summer-like heat arrives in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), Michigan State Police and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are reminding parents and caregivers to be diligent and never leave children alone in vehicles.
Last year, at least 44 children died from heatstroke in vehicles across the country. Three of these deaths happened in Michigan alone.
So far this year, seven children have already died in vehicles from heat-related issues, reports Mary Rosner, Marinette County Public Health Officer. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.
"Even the best of parents or caregivers can overlook a sleeping child in a car and the end result can be injury or even death," Rosner said. "Marinette County Public Health wants to remind parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Parents and caregivers can cut down the number of deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT."
- A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you're not in it so kids don't get in on their own.
- C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you're not following your normal routine.
- T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
"We know from past experience that these fatalities can happen anytime, anywhere, including in moderate temperatures," adds James K. Haveman, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "We don't want to see this happen to any family. We are asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute."
It doesn't have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated, Michigan Department of Community Health officials said.
Even with mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside.
"As a mom, I know how important it is to protect our children," Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. "By taking small steps, we really can prevent a tragedy and save lives."
Officials also recommend that parents create extra reminders and communicate with day care.
- Create a calendar reminder for your electronic devices to make sure you dropped your child off at day care.
- Develop a plan with your day care so that if your child is late, you'll be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off children at day care.
Teach kids not to play in cars.
- Make sure to lock your vehicle, including doors and trunk, when you're not using it. Keep keys and remote entry fobs out of children's sight and reach.
- Teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play. If your child is missing, get help and check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks.
- If your children are locked in a car, get them out as quickly as possible and dial 911 immediately. Emergency personnel are trained to evaluate and check for signs of heatstroke.
Too many children have lost their lives to this preventable, heartbreaking tragedy. Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near misses.
"Heatstroke is a preventable tragedy to save lives we must raise awareness of the need to ACT," said Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. "Parents and caregivers need to know just how dangerous it is to leave a child alone in a vehicle for any amount of time."
The Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan State Police, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and additional agencies have come together to raise awareness of this issue.
The Michigan State Police is reinforcing this message through the outreach efforts of their community service troopers, and Safe Kids Coalitions across the state are working in their communities to increase awareness.
For questions about keeping kids safe, call the Marinette County Health & Human Services Department at (715) 732-7670.