Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins encourages vehicle owners to use extreme caution to those operating vehicles with children in them.
As we continue to experience high temperatures in City of Columbia and Richland County the Columbia Fire Department reminds those that are operating vehicles with young children in them that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger. Nationwide last year (2014), 31 children in vehicles died as a result of heatstroke and 15 nationwide as of July 31, 2015; one of which occurred in Columbia, SC when a four year old was discovered in a vehicle, unattended and died as a result of hyperthermia due to being enclosed in a hot vehicle.
A child’s temperature heats up 3 to 5 times faster than adults; which puts children at a greater risk than adults of dying from heatstroke in a hot vehicle. When the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees we begin to suffer from heatstroke and as the core temperature increases to 107 degrees it may become lethal. Our core temperatures can rapidly increase as a vehicle can heat up 20 degrees in only ten minutes.
The warning signs of heatstroke vary, but may include:
•Red, hot & moist or dry skin
•A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse
•A throbbing headache
The Columbia Fire Department urges parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:
-Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or
the engine is running and the air conditioning is on
-Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and
-Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn’t show up for care as expected
-Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, place a phone, purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle
-Always lock your vehicle when not in use and store keys out of a child’s reach
-If you see a child alone in a vehicle immediately call 911