Hangtags to Help Prevent Heat-Related Car Deaths

TULLAHOMA, TN (September 2, 2020) - Tennova Healthcare – Harton’s Women’s Center is participating in Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s free car hangtags program. Included in the discharge package given to families as they and their newborns leave the hospital will be two of these hangtags. The hangtags will serve as a reminder to parents, caretakers, and others to check the backseat before leaving a car or vehicle unattended.

Each year in the U.S., an average of 38 children and hundreds of dogs die from hyperthermia (heatstroke) in hot cars. While our initial reaction may be these are cases of blatant cruelty or negligence, the truth is many are due to tragic error on the part of otherwise loving, competent caregivers. These include instances in which a child has been forgotten in a car, when they accidentally lock themselves in a car or trunk or, in a small number of cases, when a child has been intentionally left in a car.

“In addition to fatalities in hot cars, every summer children are seen in emergency rooms across the United States suffering from hyperthermia,” says Dr. Christopher Rone, Tennova Healthcare – Harton ED Medical Director. “Often, they’ve been left for only minutes in a car and parents return to find them suffering from rapidly-increased body temperatures. There are far too many close calls, and it’s completely preventable.”

It’s true that some children and pets are knowingly and negligently left inside hot vehicles. But in most cases, hot car deaths are a result of an adult’s disastrous lapse in memory. Working parents are often tired, stressed and running on ‘auto-pilot’ on their way to and from work or errands. The risk is particularly high when the child is sleeping in the back seat, or when the adult is traveling a path outside their normal routine.

“In the event you or someone you know experiences signs of heatstroke, remember NOT to attempt to bring down the temperature too quickly,” says Rone. “Don’t use ice or ice water. Attempt to bring down the temperature gradually with cool spray or mild air conditioning, and dial 911 or proceed immediately to the nearest ER.”

This initiative, while saving lives, gives persons an easy reminder also to register to vote. On the hangtags, the web site is included, GoVoteTN.com, and a QR code that links directly to the Tennessee Online Voter Registration App.