Raleigh, N.C. With summer temperatures continuing to soar into the upper 90s, Governor Pat McCrory, First Lady Ann McCrory and Public Safety officials are reminding the public to stay safe when working, exercising and moving from one place to another in the extreme heat.
"Most North Carolinians are used to the summertime temperatures, but if you are not careful the extreme heat coupled with humidity can be a dangerous combination,"
Governor McCrory said. "Many parts of the state are under heat advisories which means heat-related illnesses are possible."
The State Highway Patrol warns against motorists leaving children and pets in vehicles even for short periods of time. Within minutes the temperature inside a vehicle can reach over 125 degrees. Eighty percent of the temperature increase occurs within the first 10 minutes.
"I urge you to take these simple tips seriously and put them into action on a daily basis,"
said First Lady Ann McCrory. "These actions become invaluable when it comes to saving the lives of our children and pets who have no way of getting out of the car on their own. Save a life by looking before you lock!"
So far this year, 23 children nationwide have died of heatstroke due to being left in a vehicle. North Carolina experienced one of those deaths this year, including an 8-month-old infant in Wilmington.
In North Carolina, 29 children died from heatstroke from 1991 to 2014 after being left in vehicles, making it the sixth-highest state in the nation for those types of fatalities. In the majority of these cases, the person responsible for these deaths unintentionally left the child inside the vehicle.
"People may be in a hurry or distracted and when an infant or child falls asleep in their rear-facing child seat, they can be forgotten by their parent and/or caregiver," warned Highway Patrol spokesman, Lt. Jeff Gordon. "With pets, some think that they will be safe if they are left for short periods of time, but they are just as susceptible to the heat."
Heatstroke is clinically defined as when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat. When the body's core temperature reaches 107 degrees F or greater, internal organs begin to shut down. A child's body is not able to regulate its' body temperature as well as an adult and studies have shown that their body temperature warms at a rate of three to five times faster than an adult.
Extreme temperatures can also cause heatstroke in pets. According to the Humane Society, some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
To prevent future tragedies from occurring, the Highway Patrol offers a few simple tips for parents, caregivers and pet owners:
"By educating the public on the dangers of leaving a child in a vehicle and following a few simple safety tips, hopefully we can prevent future innocent lives from being lost,"
- Never leave children or pets alone in or around cars.
- If you see a child or pet alone in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Create a reminder to check the back seat.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
- Keep car keys and remotes out of reach of children.
- If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
- Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
- Use drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.
said Col. William Grey, commander of the Highway Patrol.
People should also be extremely careful when working and playing out in the heat. Last week, there were over 350 heat-related illness emergency department visits and more than 1,700 this summer. Practice the following tips if you will be out in the heat:
- Drink plenty of water even if you don't feel thirsty.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day and take frequent breaks.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals and limit salt intake unless advised differently by your doctor.
More heat related tips and information is available at www.ReadyNC.org, on the ReadyNC app or at www.publichealth.nc.gov.
- Contact: Crystal Feldman