August 11, 2011
NHTSA Administrator Strickland, Child Safety Advocates and Health Professionals Highlight Dangers of Child Fatalities and Injuries From Vehicular Heat Stroke
FORT WORTH -- With Texas in the midst of one of the worst heat waves on record and reports of at least five child fatalities from heat stroke statewide, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland joined officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, SafeKids, Cook Children's Medical Center and victims to discuss strategies to prevent heat stroke fatalities and injuries to young children left unattended in vehicles.
"The summer of 2011 is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record and one of the worst years for children dying of heat stroke," Administrator Strickland said. "The greatest tragedy is that child fatalities and injuries from hot cars are entirely preventable -- that's why we need to work together to have an immediate impact in our communities."
Children left alone in vehicles during hot weather are at risk of a serious injury or death from hyperthermia. According to NHTSA research, hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under. Nationwide, at least 21 children have already died from heat stroke this summer.
Reports by the San Francisco State University's Department of Geosciences show 49 children 14 or younger died in 2010 due to hyperthermia, with 21 fatalities so far in 2011. Several states have witnessed especially high incidences of fatalities for children 3 and younger, including Texas, Florida, California, Nevada and North Carolina.
Today's event comes on the heels of a first-of-its-kind roundtable convened by NHTSA last month and is part of a series of public listening sessions and other activities the agency is hosting in some of the states hardest hit by hyperthermia fatalities. The series will engage concerned parents, advocacy groups, automotive experts, health professionals and law enforcement professionals to discuss the best ways to raise awareness and to propose strategies for preventing these tragic events. Other meetings are being scheduled for Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, California and Nevada.
For NHTSA research on the issue of hyperthermia go to www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811116.PDF
To view SFSU Department of Geosciences data go to www.ggweather.com/heat/index.htm
Safety tips for parents and caregivers are available at www.nhtsa.gov/safety/hyperthermia