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Vehicular Heat Stroke Prevention

Las Vegas is one of the hottest cities on the planet. Even though it is a “dry heat”, that is certainly not much comfort during the height of summer when the average high temperature in the city exceeds 105 degrees. Heat stroke prevention is a huge area of public safety concern in Nevada. Vehicular heat stroke prevention is an unappreciated part of keeping people safe. Here, our car accident attorney in Vegas highlights the dangers of vehicular heat stroke and highlights seven tips to prevent injuries and illnesses. 

What is Heat Stroke?

As explained by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness.” It happens when the body gets so hot that it loses the ability to regulate its temperature. During a heat stroke, the body’s temperature can rise above 106 degrees. This is an emergency, life-threatening situation. Immediate medical attention is required. A heat stroke can lead to severe injuries, permanent disability, and even deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 750 people die each year due to excess heat. 

Heat Stroke Can Occur in Motor Vehicles

A heat stroke is a Las Vegas injury that can happen in a number of different circumstances. In any condition where the temperature is very high, a person is at risk of a heat-related illness. Heat strokes can and do occur within motor vehicles. The most well-publicized type of vehicular heat stroke is undoubtedly a child—usually an infant or a toddler—being left within a hot car. Though, adults can and do suffer heat-related illnesses within automobiles. A car sitting in the hot sun in Clark County can get extraordinarily hot—especially if the windows are not down and the air conditioning is not running. More public safety attention is placed on motor vehicles as potentially risky areas for heat-related illnesses, including heat strokes. 

Infants and Toddlers are at the Highest Risk of Vehicular Heat Stroke

Young children face, by far, the highest risk of vehicular heatstroke. Most people have seen tragic, heartbreaking stories on the news about an infant or a toddler being left in a hot car by accident. It is an extremely serious safety hazard. Vehicular heatstroke prevention is a major area of public health concern for state and federal regulators. According to data from Traffic Safety Marketing, there have been 917 confirmed pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) deaths nationwide since 1998. Here is an overview of the data for recent years: 

  • 2020: 25 child heat stroke fatalities. 
  • 2021: 23 child heat stroke fatalities.
  • 2022 (First Six Months): 10 child heat stroke fatalities.

Pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) is one of the most gut wrenching, devastating tragedies imaginable. It is imperative that parents and other caretakers go above and beyond to ensure that infants and toddlers are kept safe. Parents and caregivers should develop a habit of looking twice before they lock their vehicle. The tragedy of pediatric vehicular heatstroke most often occurs when a person has a momentary slip of the mind. Double-checking the car is a crucial heat stroke prevention safety tip to develop for parents and caregivers. 

single vehicle car accident

Seven Tips to Prevent Vehicular Heatstroke

Vehicular heat stroke prevention is critically important. Heat-related illnesses, including heat strokes, can come on very quickly. When they do, it is always a serious medical emergency. The good news is that vehicular heat strokes are largely preventable. A proactive approach can dramatically limit the risk of a heat stroke. Here are seven actionable tips to prevent vehicular heat strokes: 

  • Never Leave a Young Child Unattended in a Vehicle: Infants and toddlers are vulnerable. They are overrepresented amongst heat stroke accident victims. Never leave a young child in a motor vehicle alone. The hotter it is outside in Las Vegas, the faster the vehicle will heat up. In some cases, a heat stroke can happen in less than 15 minutes.  
  • Always Look Before You Lock: All parents and caregivers of young children should create a  habit of double checking (looking) before they lock their vehicle. Make sure that there is no child in the car. While it seems like this type of mistake could never happen, the unfortunate reality is that dozens of parents deal with the unthinkable every year. 
  • Lock Your Car to Keep Curious Out: Some child vehicular heat strokes happen because a curious child climbed into an unlocked vehicle that they were never supposed to be in. You can help prevent the risk of this type of tragedy by locking your car.  
  • Stay Hydrated: Vehicular heat stroke happens in teenagers and adults too. Elderly and otherwise vulnerable people are at a heightened risk. One of the best steps to reduce the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration is always important. It becomes an absolute must in the hottest days of the Las Vegas summer. 
  • Limit Exposure in a Hot Car: Prolonged exposure to a very hot environment is not safe. When the temperature is greater than 100 degrees, it is imperative that people limit their exposure. They need shade, water, and breaks. The car is no exception to this general rule. It is a best practice to run the air conditioning to keep the temperature down to a reasonable level. If your vehicle lacks working air conditioning, then you need to know the risk and limit your exposure time within the hot car. 
  • Know the Early Warning Signs: You should know the signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness. If you feel a sudden onset of nausea, headache, lightheadedness, or very hot skin, you may be developing a heat stroke. You need to act immediately. When the body is losing its ability to regulate itself, it needs to be cooled down externally—water can help.    
  • Educate Your Loved Ones: Everyone should be aware of the risks of vehicular heat-related illnesses. You should try to educate your lovedones—especially those with young children—of the risks. Knowing the right safety precautions and how to spot signs of a heat-related illness can save lives. 

Take Immediate Emergency Action if You Suspect Vehicular Heatstroke 

A heat stroke is always a medical emergency. It can come on quickly and it can be a life-threatening condition. Any person who is showing signs of a heat stroke requires immediate emergency medical care. Do not wait to take action. Get a person who is showing signs of vehicular heat stroke help. Some potential symptoms that suggest an oncoming or occurring heat stroke include: 

  • Very hot skin; 
  • Unusually dry skin; 
  • Unusual, profuse sweating;
  • A high body temperature;  
  • Confusion, especially sudden onset; 
  • A seizure. 

A suspected heat stroke, including a suspected vehicular heat stroke requires emergency medical treatment. Do not hesitate to call 911. Quick action is a must. Remove the person from the hot environment. They need cold water. It is generally a best practice to soak as much of their skin and clothing as possible in cold water. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Las Vegas Auto Accident Lawyer

At Ladah Law Firm, our Las Vegas car accident attorney has the professional expertise you can trust. We have secured more than $200 million in personal injury compensation for our clients. If you have any questions about vehicular heatstroke, we can help. Give us a phone call today at (702) 252-0055 or connect with our firm online to request your no cost, no commitment case review. With a law office in Las Vegas, we represent injured victims in all of Clark County.