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Avoid summer tragedy: Never leave kids in cars
Wednesday Jul 16, 2014 5:45am

By: Troy Wilde

INDIANAPOLIS - There's much talk about the Georgia father suspected of knowingly leaving his nine-month old son in his truck, but every summer parents accidentally forget their children in the car.

It's an action that can lead to heatstroke and in some cases death.

Registered nurse Phyllis Larimore says children left in cars can suffer fatal hyperthermia in just minutes, even when the outside temperature is mild.

She says a change in routine is often behind these tragedies.

"Children have stopped going to school, and so there's something new," she explains. "Or someone else is taking them to the day care.

"These things happen across all socioeconomic strata. All types of parents."

Earlier this year a Colorado mother - Heather Jensen - was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the death of her sons. Jensen was found guilty of child abuse after she left her sons in her car to have sex with her boyfriend.

According to KidsAndCars.org, nearly 400 children in the United States have died in hot cars in the last decade.

The summer heat and humidity can also spell trouble for children who spend time outdoors, since a child's body heats up much faster than an adult's.

Dr. Eric Kirkendall at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center says that makes children more susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heatstroke.

"And that includes hot, flushed skin typically associated with high fevers, over 104 degrees," he explains. "And that's when kids will also start to have altered mental states.

"So, they'll start getting really confused, and in some of the worst cases can have seizures."

Kirkendall says to protect against heat-related illnesses, parents need to make sure their children stay hydrated and that their exposure to the sun is limited.

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