Educating About Heatstroke in Children: A Mother’s Story

Video courtesy of Safe Kids Grand Forks | Altru Health System.

 


Below is the transcription to the above audio:

Andrea Boe:

It’s really hard to describe the pain and grief of losing a child and the guilt and shame of this particular way of losing a child was overwhelming. I first became involved with Safe Kids after my daughter, Kate, passed away. She died of a heat stroke in my car. I forgot her in my backseat and it was a very tragic event for our family, obviously. After that happened, Carma Hanson, of Safe Kids, reached out to me. I think, through her work, she understood that this has happened before. She reached out to me and it was a lifeline to me and to our family and really gave us an avenue to speak about it and do something about it. Just allowed me to talk about it in a way that is comfortable and safe for me but will also provides an opportunity for education for others. They gave me a lot of … Carma and Safe Kids have given me a lot of opportunities to help where I can.

Carma Hanson:

Unfortunately, every year there’s about 49 children on average that die in the United States from heat stroke, either after being left in a hot car by their parents unintentionally or by children gaining access to the vehicle. It’s really good parents who kind of get on autopilot. They may take a different road home. Maybe one parent drops off, the other one picks up so they’re out of their normal routine and they forget that that child has not been dropped off. Children’s body temperatures overheat three to five times faster than an adult’s does. They don’t have the ability to thermoregulate like an adult does and it really doesn’t take a very hot day.

Carma Hanson:

The temperatures inside of vehicles can get to be about 40 to 50 degrees hotter than outside so even on a 70 degree day the temperatures inside that car could be 120, 130 degrees. With kids’ inability to regulate their body temperatures, it puts them in a really dangerous situation pretty quickly.

Andrea Boe:

Understand that it can happen. I mean, before this happened to me I honestly … I’m not sure I ever heard of it happening, for one thing, and if you woulda told me that I would forget my baby in my car I woulda said you’re crazy. Just even understanding that it’s a possibility that it can happen. After it happened, of course, I did research and I learned that it happens many times a year all over the country. Just understanding that it’s possible that it can even happen to you because I think if you accept the possibility you’re going to be open to maybe doing some of the things that’s suggested from Safe Kids and in their flyers, whether that’s putting a stuffed animal in the front seat to remind you.

Andrea Boe:

Some cars these days do have a reminder when you turn off your car. For me, her car seat was behind my driver’s seat so even just the position of the car seat so that you possibly see it when you go to reach your bag or putting your bag in back, putting your phone and your bag in back where you have your children. There’s all those different tactics, I guess, you can use to remind yourself.

Carma Hanson:

We need all parents and caregivers to be aware of the fact that this can happen to them, because if they feel like it can and they don’t get this persona of I’m a good parent, it could never happen to me, they’re going to be really taking those extra steps to be vigilant and make sure that it doesn’t. We usually use the acronym ACT when we’re talking about heat stroke prevention. The A stands for avoid heat stroke. The first thing is, parents need to never leave their child alone in the car. Even if it’s for a quick trip inside, it could turn into a lot longer than they anticipated.

Carma Hanson:

The other thing would be to always lock your car when it’s not in use. Put those keys up and out of reach where kids don’t have access to it. Even if you don’t have kids in your own home but you’ve got a car parked on a driveway or in a parking lot, to lock it. Oftentimes, kids will toddle off and get into somebody else’s vehicle that was left unlocked. That’s the A.

Carma Hanson:

The C is create reminders. Safe Kids have a little orange vinyl cling that can go on the window as a reminder to always check that backseat where kids need to be riding in cars. The other thing you can do, set an alarm on your phone or put a shoe or a briefcase or something in the back that you might need to take when you get to your destination. The last thing is to take action. If anybody sees a young child in a vehicle unattended and you can’t locate the parents right away, call 911.

Carma Hanson:

Kids can go from being fine to being in real danger really quickly. By calling 911, you’re going to get emergency responders there that know how to break into that window without injuring the person inside. They also know how to render medical aid should you need to provide the child with some. It’s not about getting anybody into trouble, it’s really about potentially saving a life of a child.

Andrea Boe:

You know, having that awareness that things can happen in a blink of an eye and that just understanding that bad things happen to good people and being aware of these things in the first place. I guess what I’d also like to say is I just have a great admiration and have a lot of gratitude for Safe Kids, not only for my situation but I know, I know that they have saved lives. I know that Safe Kids …. Between the swimming and the bike helmet and the safety seats, they do so many things in our community. I don’t think people realize the amount of work that they do and the critical work they do and I know that they have saved lives.

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