By Tamas Mondovics
With rising temperatures, especially during the summer months, most Floridians do not need to be reminded of being cautious or to be aware of the danger that heat can cause.
What may not be common knowledge, is that July 31 was National Heatstroke Prevention Day.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) spokesperson, Ronnie Rivera, emphasized the importance of such a campaign and mentioned the department’s effort of promoting the national day.
“We want to make sure that everyone is safe,” Rivera said. “It is the mission of HCFR to preserve and protect life and property by providing quality, timely emergency services and by enhancing public safety through public education, comprehensive prevention, and emergency planning initiatives.”
Of course, being safe means much more than just reflecting on the dangers of summer heat for one day.
As the rising summer temperatures continue during the month of August, a major focus involves children who die from heatstroke after being left alone in a car.
According to a recent report by the national Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), a child dies about once every 10 days from being left alone in a hot vehicle.
On its recent flyer promoting child safety awareness, the NHTSA reported that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatality for kids 14 and younger and mentioned that children climb into unlocked cars to play, or are left alone in the car.
“The sad thing is that these tragedies are 100 percent preventable,” Rivera said.
As part of the day-long campaign, NHTSA asked residents to help local emergency rescue agencies in the effort to raise awareness about the dangers of kids and cars through a concerted day-long social media conversation by reaching out to State and safety partners to tweet and post on Facebook every hour on the hour from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Some of the most thought-provoking tweets from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were quick and to the point including the one that read; “Today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day – Your quick action can save a young life. Where’s baby?”
The message was followed by another an hour later, which read, “A child’s body absorbs more heat on a hot day than an adult’s does. Where’s baby? Look before you lock!”
Another tweet said, “In more than 29 percent of heatstroke cases, kids got into vehicles on their own.”
The messages from HCSO as well as the from HCFR just kept coming and demonstrated both departments commitment to saving lives, especially of children who rely on others for care and protection.
Residents are urged by local law enforcement and rescue personnel to be vigilant and if they see a child alone in a hot vehicle, to call 911 or their local emergency number immediately.
If the child is in distress due to heat, the NHTSA says it is best to get that child out as quickly as possible, cool the child rapidly by spraying the child with cool water or with water from a garden hose (an ice bath isn’t necessary nor desirable).
For more information, please visit NHTSA.org or safercar.gov/heatstroke.