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Preventing Heatstroke and Car Deaths

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Catastrophic Injuries

Rising temperatures, combined with health advisories to socialize and exercise outdoors to keep from contracting coronavirus, make heat-related illnesses even more of a concern this summer than in years’ past. It’s important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, as well as how to prevent these illnesses. This is also the time to be especially aware of high temperatures inside cars, and what to do to avoid a heat-related car incident or death.

More than 600 people die from heat-related illness in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat exhaustion and deadly heatstroke are caused by exposure to extreme heat and the body’s inability to cool down. High humidity levels exacerbate the situation because sweat, the body’s natural coolant, cannot evaporate.

Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Wearing lightweight clothing, staying indoors as much as possible, staying hydrated, and scheduling outdoor work and activities for cooler hours are among the steps you can take to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion. These include muscle cramping, fatigue, headache, nausea, and dizziness. If you or someone you are with exhibits these signs, move to a shady or air-conditioned space, lay down and elevate legs, remove tight or heavy clothing, drink cool water or a sports drink, and spray or sponge the person with cool water.

If untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into a life-threatening heatstroke. But not all heatstrokes start as heat exhaustion. Signs of heatstroke include a temperature above 103 degrees; red, hot, dry skin (no sweat); rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness. If you suspect heatstroke, the first thing to do is call 911. Then immediately move the person out of the heat, remove excess clothing, and cool by any available means such as water from a hose or an ice pack. Try to get the person to drink cool – not cold – water.

Infants and children under age 4, as well as adults over age 65, overweight, or with an underlying medical condition, are most susceptible to heat illnesses. But even young, healthy adults are at risk if they participate in strenuous exercise or work outside during hot weather. Heat waves, with three or more consecutive days of 90 degree or higher temperatures, as well as being in a manmade environment (an urban area with lots of concrete vs. a rural area) can also increase risk.

A unique danger to infants and young children is being left in a car on a hot day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 children suffered hot car deaths in the US in 2019. The majority occurred because someone forgot to drop a child at daycare or preschool. Another 25% happened when a child climbed into an unlocked vehicle unbeknownst to anyone.

In order to prevent heat-related deaths of young children, keep cars locked at all times.. When transporting a young child, NHTSA says to park, look, and then lock. Always ask: “Where’s baby?” Keeping something important, like a cell phone, computer, ID badge, or even your left shoe, in the back seat can also be a reminder to check before locking and leaving your car.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Hudson King
If you or someone you love has been negligently exposed to excessive heat conditions resulting in heat exhaustion or stroke, you may be eligible for compensation. At Hudson King, our team of personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to pursue the best possible results in your case. Contact us today at 229-515-8585 for a free case consultation.

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