McLeod Safe Kids Raises Awareness of the Dangers of Hyperthermia


McLeod Safe Kids uses a hyperthermia education thermometer to educate the community on the dangers of hyperthermia, or heatstroke that occurs if a child is left in a car.

Since January 1, 2017, 16 children have died due to hyperthermia in the United States, according to Sixteen families who will never see their loved one again. Sixteen children who will never grow up to play sports, graduate from high school, experience their first heartbreak, or find their passion in life.

Hyperthermia is 100 percent preventable, yet the United States averages a loss of one child per eight days as a result of this condition.

A child should never be left in a car, not even for a minute. A car takes about 10 minutes to heat up approximately 20 degrees. Regardless of the outside temperature, or the exterior color, type of seats or type of car (an SUV or Sudan), vehicles heat up the same way.

It is important to know that a child’s body temperature heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body temperature. When the child’s core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, they suffer from organ failure and brain damage, and at 107 degrees, death.

What is Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia, commonly referred to as heatstroke, is the most serious form of heat injury. It is a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures in combination with dehydration. The medical definition of heatstroke is a core body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit with complications involving the nervous system that develop after prolonged heat exposure.

Symptoms of heatstroke include fainting; throbbing headache; dizziness and light-headedness; lack of sweating despite the heat; red, hot, and dry skin; muscle weakness or cramps; nausea and vomiting; rapid heartbeat (which may be either strong or weak); shallow breathing; behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering; seizures and unconsciousness.

Seek medical attention immediately if anyone displays these symptoms.

How to Prevent Hyperthermia
Hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths among children ages 14 and under. However, there are ways to reduce and prevent this act from occurring. Most children are victims of hyperthermia because something was different from the normal daily routine. A parent took the child to a doctor’s appointment and then headed to work, distracted, instead of taking the child to daycare first. Or a grandparent who doesn’t usually take the child to school drove them that day, stopping at the bank first and forgot the child was sleeping in the back.

Fortunately, because of the risk for younger children, car seat manufacturers and car dealers are creating devices to help remind drivers there are passengers in the rear seat of the vehicle. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to reduce the possibility of heatstroke, including:

  • Keep your car locked so children cannot get in without your knowledge.
  • Practice checking the backseat even if you don’t have children or animals in the car.
  • Take one shoe off and place it in the back seat as you start your drive.
  • Set an alert on your phone to go off at the end of your drive.
  • Have your daycare center or school call to let you know you never dropped off your child.

Each state has heatstroke laws in order to protect those who cannot help themselves. For instance, in South Carolina, the Good Samaritan law allows people to break into vehicles if they see children or animals locked inside. To learn more about this law, visit the website.

Always remember to ACT:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunks – even in your driveway. Also, keep your keys and key fobs out of the reach of children.
  • C: Create reminders. Place something you’ll need at your next stop like a briefcase or cell phone next to the child safety seat. It may seem simple, but this can be a helpful reminder on a chaotic day.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations.

For more information on hyperthermia and other preventable injuries, visit or call McLeod Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal at (843) 777-5021.