Doctor on Car Deaths: 'We can prevent this'

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- The South Carolina Department of Public safety says it takes only ten minutes for the temperature inside your vehicle to jump 20 degrees. That can make for dangerous conditions for young children, doctors say, unless adults take the wheel to prevent it from every happening.

As Georgia investigators recreate a 22-month-old's final hours in his father's SUV, at least one Midlands doctor is reminding adults to be vigilant in making sure it doesn't happen to them.

"We can really prevent this," said Saurabh Chatterjee, professor of research at the University of South Carolina, "People here will say, 'I've lived in South Carolina for years; we're used to the heat.'b But, the reality, is they're not prepared for it."

Saurabh says that kind of heat immediately attacks the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. For children, the process increases significantly. Moreover, child safety advocates say on average, nearly 40 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside. It's a statistic no one should add to, says Chatterjee.

"If you leave them in a hot car it's like putting them in a closed, confined space, you are actually having a closed incubation chamber. Heat stress in the physiological system, you can be affected very fast."

He urges, keep young children hydrated, wearing loose-fitting clothes, and never leave them in a closed, parked car for any amount of time.

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