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DHEC wants to remind parents about hot car deaths

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 11:17 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2021 at 1:23 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is reminding parents and caregivers to remember the dangers of leaving a child in a car during the hot summer months.

DHEC says an unattended child in a vehicle can result in heat stroke or death.

In South Carolina, there have been 20 deaths in hot cars since 1998, DHEC says. They cite the most recent death which occurred last week in Spartanburg.

DHEC says children are particularly vulnerable to hot car deaths because their ability to regulate their body temperature isn’t fully developed and their body temperature warms three to five times faster than an adult’s.

“Temperatures inside a vehicle can reach life threatening levels even on mild or cloudy days,” DHEC Bureau of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Director Dr. Virginie Daguise said. “There is no safe amount of time to leave a child in a car, and it’s unsafe to leave a child with the windows down.”

The main circumstances that contribute to hot car deaths involving children include:

  • a caregiver forgetting a child in a vehicle
  • the child gaining access to the vehicle
  • someone knowingly leaving a child in a vehicle

“Anyone commuting, traveling, or running an errand with a child in tow should be vigilant so the child, especially if he or she is sleeping, isn’t accidentally left behind,” Daguise said. “Try talking to the child or singing songs while you’re riding so you’re actively engaged with him or her, and find a creative trick that works for you that reminds you to ‘look before you lock.’”

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