Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Avoid Summer Tragedy: Never Leave Kids In Cars

TALLAHASSEE, FL – It's a parent's worst nightmare, but it happens every summer. Kids suffer heatstroke after being left in hot cars. In some cases, they die.

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According to Phyllis Larimore, a nurse and car seat safety specialist at Children's Mercy Hospital, children left in cars can suffer fatal hyperthermia in just minutes, even when outside temperatures are mild. Often, a change in routine is what increases risk.

"Children have stopped going to school," said Larimore. "There's something new, or someone else is taking them to the daycare. These things happen across all socioeconomic strata, all types of parents."

A Rockledge father was charged in late June with manslaughter after he left his nine-month old daughter in his truck.

Nearly 400 children have died in hot cars in the past decade, according to the group KidsAndCars.org.

Dr. Eric Kirkendall, Division of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, making it critical that they stay hydrated and limit their exposure to the sun.

Kirkendall said excessive sun exposure can lead to heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heatstroke.

"Hot, flushed skin typically is associated with high fevers, over 104 degrees," said Kirkendall. "That's when kids will also start to have altered mental states. They'll start getting really confused, and in some of the worst cases can have seizures."

Kirkendall also recommended making sure children wear sunblock and light-colored, loose clothing when outdoors. He also advised against being outside between noon and 6 p.m.

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