Sanford Children's Safety Center cautions leaving children in hot cars

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -- We all know summer can bring incredibly hot temperatures, and those high temps can be fatal when leaving their children in the hot car.

Greta Miller, a Community Life Educator at Sanford Children's Safety Center, joined us Wednesday to talk about taking precautions to avoid this situation.

Valley News Live: Greta, how common is this, and why it is dangerous to keep kids in hot cars?

Greta Miller: Unfortunately, this is common, and it does happen. Nearly every ten days, a child dies from heatstroke from being left in a car that gets too hot. Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths among children. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car. Parents may think it will be ok to leave the kids in the car for just a few minutes. Kids may even sneak into a car without the parent knowing. A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn't help."

Valley News Live: What happens when a child is left in a hot car?

Greta Miller: Young children's bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Valley News Live: What are some safety tips you can share with us to help prevent this situation from happening?

Greta Miller: Parents and caregivers need to remember the acronym "Act."

A – avoid heatstroke by never leaving children alone in the car, not even for a minute. Always lock your car and keep your keys on you when you are not in it. This will prevent your children from entering the car without your knowledge.

C – create reminders that your child is still in the car. Put something next to your child in the backseat such as your briefcase, purse, or cell phone that you will need when you reach your destination.

T – take action. If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 right away. This could save a life.

Remember, this is something that does happen. The biggest mistake is people thinking that it can't happen to them. Teach your kids not to play in the car and be vigilant

To learn more about children's car safety visit sanfordhealth.org and safekids.org.