JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Every year, there are countless stories about children being left in hot cars during the summertime, and the results can be tragic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11 kids have died of heatstroke this year due to being left in a hot car.
Dr. Hilliary Sismondo, a pediatrician and assistant professor of Clinical Medicine at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, said there are two reasons why children are more susceptible to the high heat.
“First of all, their body does not thermo-regulate, which means they don’t acclimate to the heat as well as adults do,” Dr. Sismondo said.
She said that children do not sweat as much as adults. The sweat evaporates and helps cool our bodies down.
“The second reason why they are at an increased risk of heat exhaustion is because children have a higher metabolic rate than adults.”
Dr. Sismondo said our cells and bodies produce heat to perform bodily functions like digestion, breathing, and thinking, but the cells in children’s bodies do it much quicker so they build up more heat.
“So, in addition to the high heat outside, they also have increased heat within their little bodies, so they can get to higher temperatures than we would in the same setting,” Dr. Sismondo said.
Our bodies are also designed to function at around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, Dr. Sismondo said.
“So, the minute your temperature starts rising, when it gets to around 104 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the proteins in our body, start to not function as well as they normally would,” Dr. Sismondo said.
She said some of those cells can become misshapen and the proteins that make up organs like your brain, heart, liver, do not work as well and your organs can begin to shut down.
She said you can do things like leave something in the back seat of the car to make sure you do not leave your child in the car.
“Even if I say, were to walk into work, I would quickly remember that I forgot my cell phone and I would go back and realize that he was still in the car,” Dr. Sismondo said.
She also said if someone else takes your kids to school or daycare, have them call you or send you a text to let you know your kids made it safely.
You could even have the daycare call you if your kids are late.