Mayor Skip Henderson Joins PCR, Safe Kids to Warn Families about the Dangers of Heatstroke

Staff Report

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Outside of crashes, heatstroke is the number one vehicle-related killer of children in the United States. That’s why Safe Kids Columbus is following the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines to remind parents and caregivers about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars. In 2019, there were 52 preventable deaths of children in vehicles.

“While leaving your child in the car alone for just a few minutes might seem like a reasonable option during these challenging times, it is not worth the risk.  Never leave your child alone in a car, not even during a quick trip to the store,” said Mayor Skip Henderson.

As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children dying from vehicular heatstroke increases.  A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult, and heatstroke can occur fast,” said Pamela Fair, Director of Safe Kids Columbus at Piedmont Columbus Regional. 

One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days in the United States from being left in a car or crawling into an unlocked vehicle. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes, and in Georgia outdoor temperatures soar to 100 degrees or higher during the summer months.  What is most tragic is that every single one of these deaths could have been prevented. 

Mayor Henderson, Piedmont Columbus Regional and Safe Kids Columbus urge all parents and caregivers to do these three things:  

  • NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.

  • Make it a habit to look in the back seat EVERY time you exit the car.

  • ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach. 

If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle:

  • Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

  • If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.

·   If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.

·  If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window—many states have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. The Good Samaritan law exists in both Georgia and Alabama.

Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, quickly spray the child with cool water or with a garden hose— NEVER put a child in an ice bath. Call 911 immediately. 

“More than half (54%) of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and 26% are from a child getting into a hot car unsupervised,” said Pamela Fair.  “We want to get the word out to parents and caregivers: please Look Before You Lock.” 

For more tips on how to protect your children at home, at play and on the way, visit