Death of toddler highlights frightening dangers of heatstroke

Death of toddler highlights frightening dangers of heatstroke

A 2-year-old in Malaysia died of heatstroke after her mum accidentally left her in a parked car for four hours...

It was a warm Wednesday morning when Ms Hasmah Masroh loaded her car, along with her two kids, and headed to work. Little did she know that it would be the last time she would see her youngest daughter alive. 

The 32-year-old mum, who works at a college in Port Dickson, Malaysia, reportedly dropped her older child off at kindergarten, forgetting that her youngest was still in the car when she headed into the office. 

“It was a fluke accident. She forgot she brought her daughter to college,” a friend of the mum told Straits Times. “She had dropped off her elder child at the kindergarten but somehow didn’t take her daughter to the babysitter.”

Child forgotten in car for four hours suffers heatstroke 

child forgotten in car

Child forgotten in car dies — The mum worked at a college and left her daughter in the campus car park. | Screenshot: NST news video

At around 1:oo pm, the terrified mum realised she had left her daughter in the car. 

“She rushed to the car but found the girl unconscious,” police chief Superintendent Zainudin Ahmad told New Straits Times, adding that the toddler was rushed to the Port Dickson Health Clinic, where she was confirmed dead. 

 The distraught mum begged her daughter for forgiveness while at the Port Dickson hospital mortuary. 

“I’m so sorry… please forgive me, sayang. Ibu didn’t do it on purpose,” the Straits Times reported her saying. 

Authorities can jail the mum for up to 10 years and fine her up to RM20,000 (S$6,800) if convicted. 

Child forgotten in car: the dangers of heatstroke all mums and dads should know about 

At least 36 children die in hot cars each year. But not all of these cases involve kids being left in cars. In some cases, kids accidentally lock themselves in the car. In rare cases, some of the children were left in the car on purpose

The most important thing parents should know is to look before you lock.

  • Open the back seat door to make sure you leave no child behind. 
  • Place reminders — belongings in the backseat or a stuffed toy in the front seat — to serve as visual reminders that you have a child in the backseat. 
  • Never leave children by themselves inside or around cars — not even for a minute. 
  • Always keep vehicles locked, even when they are parked. Instruct other caregivers to do the same. 
  • If your child goes missing, check passenger compartments, trunks, or the inside of your car thoroughly.
  • If you see a child trapped in a car, call 999 or other emergency hotlines immediately. 

Because babies can’t sweat much when it is hot, unlike adults, they are more at risk for heat reactions. There are three common reactions to extremely hot temperatures or heat waves. 

Heatstroke or Sunstroke

Heatstroke is life-threatening. Those suffering from it can suffer from shock or confusion. It can even result in a coma. Those suffering heatstroke usually have high fever or flushed skin. Remember that half of children suffering from heatstroke do no sweat.

Heat Exhaustion

Those with heat exhaustion have pale skin and sweat profusely. They can also experience mild fever, nausea, dizziness, or fainting. 

Heat Cramps

Those with heat cramps experience severe leg, calf, thigh muscle or stomach cramps. In some cases, hand tightness or spasms can also be present. Fluids and rest are usually all it takes to keep these symptoms at bay.

When to call 999:

  • If the child can’t be woken up or is difficult to rouse
  • If the child acts or talks like they are dazed and confused
  • When the child suffers seizures
  • If there are signs of shock: very weak, gray, cool skin
  • If the child has a high fever of 105° F (40.5°C)
  • When the child has a life-threatening emergency

When to call the doctor or rush to the ER:

  • Call the doctor if your child is under 12 weeks old and acting unusual after prolonged heat exposure. 
  • If your child is below 12 weeks old and they develop fever, bring them to the doctor. DO NOT GIVE your baby any medicine without your doctor’s advice. 
  • Vomiting everything, even water, warrants bringing your child to the doctor or emergency room immediately.
  • If you suspect dehydration, or if your child hasn’t urinated in 8 hours, has dark urine, dry mouth and no tears, call your doctor immediately. 
  • If your child looks sick or disoriented, bring them to the doctor urgently. 

Self-care at home:

  • If your child experiences soreness and muscle cramps after heat exposure, just keep them hydrated and out of the sun. 
  • The same goes for dizziness, fever under 104° F and 40°C don’t warrant a visit to the doctor. 

We are all guilty of being forgetful at times, but as tragic incidents like this show, it could be dangerous.

No matter how hurried your early morning routine is, mums and dads, the one you routine you should never take for granted is making sure you keep your kids safe at all times.


Sources: Straits Times, CNN, New Straits Times, Seattle Children’s Hospital, NHS UK 

READ THIS ALSO: Toddlers die after being left in hot car as punishment

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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