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Heat Stroke a Summer Risk for Kids in Illinois

According to the Children's Hospital of Chicago, heat stroke is a major risk for kids in Illinois and throughout the United States. The Children's Hospital reports that more than 30 children die annually when they are left alone in a car on a hot day.  In Illinois, children suffer this fate when left in cars by parents, school bus drivers, daycare centers or other caregivers. In fact, from 1998 to 2011, there were an estimated 13 such deaths in Illinois involving children. An untold number of others were seriously injured. 

Our Chicago injury attorneys know that heat stroke can cause permanent damage or death to children within just a few minutes of the kids being left inside of a car. As the weather warms up, we urge parents and other caregivers to pay attention to this risk and to avoid doing anything to endanger children. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also doing its part to prevent heat-stroke deaths this summer season with its public education campaign called "Look Before You Lock."

Heat Stroke a Serious Summer Danger for Kids

According to SafeKids.org, heat stroke is the leading cause of non-car-crash related vehicle deaths for kids. The  Illinois Department of Health has defined the condition of heat stroke as a situation where the body is no longer able to control its temperature and where the sweat mechanism fails. As a result, body temperature rapidly rises.

In a hot car on an 80 degree day, your body temperature can rise rapidly, reaching a temperature as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit within a period of just 10 to 15 minutes. As soon as your body temperature exceeds 103 degrees, permanent injury can start to occur. Your skin may become hot and red. Your pulse may speed up. You may become unconscious. You may also suffer permanent brain damage, become blind, or become deaf as a result of the injuries sustained due to heat stroke.  In a worst-case scenario, death will result.

This tragic outcome can happen to anyone who is exposed to excess heat for too long. Unfortunately, kids may be especially unable to regulate their body temperature and may thus be more prone to heat stroke than adults. Young children, especially infants, are far more likely to suffer heat stroke in cars, vans, or buses because these kids may be left inside and unable to get themselves out of danger.

The NHTSA warns that even the most conscientious caregiver could potentially leave a child in a car unattended. Unfortunately, school bus drivers and daycare van drivers have made this mistake in the past, as have parents who left their infants inside of cars.

To prevent this tragic outcome from occurring, NHTSA cautions caregivers to check rear facing car seats and all back seats of vehicles before locking up a car door. This can help to keep kids safe and can allow caregivers to avoid legal liability for causing serious harm to an innocent and helpless child.

If your child was injured by a caregiver, contact Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit our Oak Park office.