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Friday, April 30, 2021
May 1 is National Heatstroke Prevention Day
Ahead of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), the New York State Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services are urging parents and caregivers to make sure they do not leave children, vulnerable adults or pets alone in a hot car. Even a short time left in a car can be dangerous as temperatures inside, even with windows left partly open, can quickly escalate.
“With everything we juggle in a day, especially parents, it is easy to get distracted and forget about a child sleeping or sitting quietly in the backseat,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner, and GTSC Chair. “Do not risk a life and a lifetime of sorrow and regret by leaving a child or pet inside a car. Please take a few simple steps to remind yourself to look before you lock.”
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As we approach the busy summer months that can bring dangerously high temperatures, it’’s a good idea to adjust our habits to include reminders that help keep vulnerable passengers safe. Taking the time to double-check the backseat, or to make a notification plan for absences  with daycare or school, are things that all parents and caregivers can do to ensure that a tragic accident is avoided."
OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “As we head into the warmer months, we need to make sure our kids are protected. Sunscreen and an extra bottle of water are important. Infants and little children are especially sensitive to extreme heat and their body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s, especially if they are left in a hot vehicle.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 24 children died last year after being left in hot cars. Even in cooler temperatures, a vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees, enough to kill a child left alone inside.  An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NHTSA. 
NHTSA provides guidance for parents, caregivers and passersby on how to prevent a child from suffering heatstroke.
Parents and Caregivers 
  1. Never leave a child or vulnerable adult in a vehicle unattended — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running, and the air conditioning is on.
  2. Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away. Train yourself to Park, Look, Lock, or always ask yourself "Where’’s Baby?".
  3. Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat, as another reminder to look before you lock.
  4. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger’’s seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat.
  5. Ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up for care as expected. 
Everyone — Including Bystanders
  1. If you see a child or vulnerable adult alone in a locked car, get them out immediately and call 911. A person in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
  2. Always lock your car doors and trunk, year-round, so children can’t get into unattended vehicles.
  3. Store car keys out of a child’’s reach and teach children that a vehicle is not a play area.
A child may think a car is an enticing place to play, and they may not understand the dangers an enclosed car can present or how to open the car doors if they lock.
Pets too can suffer or die if left unattended in a vehicle. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion after being left in parked vehicles.
If you see an animal in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, the Humane Society advises to call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately. You should get the vehicle’s license plate number and enter the nearest store or business to request an emergency announcement be made about a pet left in a hot car. You should then go back and wait for police at the vehicle.