Child dies of heatstroke in locked car – always check, before you lock up and leave your parked vehicle

  • Friday 14th August 2020

The tragedy of heatstroke has struck again, this time in Sungai Petani, Kedah where a four-year-old was inadvertently left in a parked car and died as a result. The four-year-old girl’s father, a factory lorry driver had left to work in the morning, and only realised the oversight when he returned to his car at 6.20pm that evening, the New Straits Times reported.

The father drove the victim’s sibling to SMK Teluk Bayu before driving to work in Sungai Lalang, and had forgotten about the four-year-old in the rear seat as she was sleeping. The victim was supposed to be taken to her grandmother’s house in Kampung Bukit, Sungai Pasir, said Kuala Muda district police chief assistant commander Adzli Abu Shah in a statement.

Only as the father was about to head home for the evening, he discovered his daughter lying unconscious in the rear seat, and though he quickly called for help, she was later confirmed by paramedics to have died, the assistant commander said. The deceased was taken to the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital for post-mortem.

Even as we all try to keep on top of our busy lives, safety needs to remain paramount, and it is crucial that with children in tow, the parent or guardian does their best to remember. One way to help keep the little ones at the top of mind is to place an essential item in the rear seats near the child so that the driver has to go around to retrieve it before leaving the vehicle.

A video uploaded in 2015 (above) by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) demonstrated just how dangerous heatstroke can be. Professional athlete, NFL player Tyrann Mathieu lasted just eight minutes before having to escape a car under direct sunlight, at which point its interior was measured at 48.9 degrees Celsius.

A child’s body heats up much more quickly than an adults – think of how small ice cubes melt more quickly than much larger ones – which means they are far more susceptible to the dangers of heatstroke compared to adults. Fifteen minutes in a heated car interior could cause life-threatening brain or kidney injuries, and when the child’s body temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius, internal organs shut down, and at 41.6 degrees Celsius, death could occur.

Tragic as they are, these losses of life are avoidable. Always check for loved ones in your vehicle, before you lock up and leave for any duration.

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