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Keeping Kids Safe in the Heat

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I took my baby for a walk last week. The temperatures were soaring into the upper 90s and the humidity was high but sometimes it’s a necessity to get outside.

We weren’t outside for more than 10 or 15 minutes and it certainly wasn’t a strenuous walk but when we came in, I could see my baby was in distress from the heat.

Luckily, the baby I’m talking about is my dog, a 10 year old toy poodle that I got from a rescue group many years ago. While 10 is young for a small dog, her health isn’t always the best and a short walk in the excruciating heat was just enough to cause her extreme panting to swell her throat making is very difficult to breathe.

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After a long day at the vet and an even longer (and more expensive) night in an oxygen chamber at an emergency clinic, she was clearly on the road to recovery.

The lesson I learned and that many parents learn is that not everyone can regulate their heat in the same way. Elderly parents, young children, and pets are all more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Sadly, 24 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars in the last three months. Since 1998, at least 585 children across the United States have died in cars from heatstroke – that’s one child every 10 days. These tragedies are heartbreaking and a reminder for all of us to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone in a hot car.

Heatstroke sets in when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough. Young children are particularly at risk, as their body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. When that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

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The saddest part of heatstroke in kids is that it’s entirely preventable. Children die in cars in temperatures as low as 72 degrees. The air inside a vehicle experiences a greenhouse effect and the interior temperature is often much hotter than outside.

Unfortunately, this is a something that Deona Ryan experienced firsthand when her babysitter left her baby in the car for just a short period of time. Even after being treated at the hospital, her daughter, Aslyn, was not able to recover from a body temperature of 106 degrees. Deona wrote about her experience in Creating Purpose From Pain as she vowed to help prevent this from happening to anyone else.

Today, we’re joining with Safe Kids, where Deona’s story was featured, and NHSTA for National Heatstroke Prevention Day to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving children alone in hot cars.

Kate Carr, the CEO of Safe Kids, shared her matter of fact tips for preventing a life-threatening situation with a reminder 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’re joining Safe Kids today by spreading the word, taking just a few precautions and looking out for each other during this season and beyond.

For more information and resources on keeping your kids safe, visit

Johnson & Johnson is a Founding Partner of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Fadra Nally is a Communications Specialist for Johnson & Johnson. When she’s not working, she’s mothering a precocious 6 year old in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD. In her spare time, she writes all.things.fadra, one of the Top 100 Mom Blogs for 2012 according to She’s also the co-founder of Charitable Influence.

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