Safe Kids & Rotary host Summer Safety Station

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The hot car display demonstrates the intensity with which a parked car heats up on the inside. The outside temperature was nearly 88 degrees; inside the car, it was 167 degrees.

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Paw Patrol’s Marshall and Chase were on hand for photo ops.

After just three hours on Monday, July 4th in downtown Franklin, the hot car display hosted by Safe Kids Macon County and the Rotary Club of Franklin as part of the Summer Safety Station showed the temperature inside the van was 167 degrees — nearly double the outside temperature which was 87.8 degrees.

Sgt. Nick Lofthouse, Safe Kids coordinator, outfits a young biker with a safety helmet.

Since May, 10 children in the United States have died as a result of being left alone in a hot car. Those children ranged in ages from just eight months old to five years old with deaths occurring in North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.

About 38 children die each year from vehicular heatstroke, according to KidsAndCars.org and NoHeatStroke.org. Heatstroke is the leading cause of death in vehicles (excluding crashes) for those 14 and younger.

It’s never safe to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows cracked or the vehicle parked in the shade, the interior temperatures within the car can reach dangerous levels in a short period of time.

Even on days with mild temperatures, the heat inside a closed vehicle can reach dangerous levels within an hour, posing major health risks to small children or pets left inside, Consumer Reports says.

“Whether your child is asleep in the car, or you are running into the store for just a moment, it is never safe to leave your child alone in the car,” said Safe Kids of Macon County Coordinator and Macon County Sheriff Office Sergeant Nick Lofthouse. “After three hours the temperature inside the car on Main Street in Franklin had nearly doubled, but when we first started the display, the temperature in the car was 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature in less than half an hour.”

Safe Kids sets up hot car displays a couple of times a year to demonstrate the dangers of the temperatures inside of a vehicle for both children and pets. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has warned that on a 60° F day—something akin to spring weather—the temperature inside a vehicle can reach a dangerous 110° F over the course of several hours.

The threshold for heatstroke in children is when the internal body temperature reaches about 104° F. And a child is at serious risk of death if their internal body temperature reaches 107° F, according to medical experts.

The danger from high temperatures is particularly acute for young children because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

In addition to the hot car display, Safe Kids Macon County and The Franklin Rotary Club sized, fitted, and gave away 200 bicycle helmets for children as part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Helmet Initiative. 

A record number of children across North Carolina will receive free bike helmets through the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bicycle Helmet Initiative.

In 2022, a record 19,900 children across the state will receive a new bike helmet as part of the program. The goal of the initiative, which began in 2007, is to reduce bicyclist injuries and fatalities. On average, 20 bicyclists are killed each year in North Carolina, according to N.C. Department of Transportation statistics. One in six is under 16 years old. Children 5 to 14 years old visit emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries more than any other sport or recreational activity. Typically, less than 50 percent of children wear safety helmets, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The Helmet Safety Institute says wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent.

NCDOT uses funds from the sale of “Share the Road” specialty license plates to pay for bike helmets that are distributed at bicycle safety events for children by government and non-government agencies.

A record 256 organizations 93 more than in 2021—have received helmets this year as part of the state program.

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