© 2024 South Carolina Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As temperatures rise, Gov. McMaster declares 'South Carolina Heat Safety Week'

SC DHEC's “Look Before You Lock” wrist tag is designed to remind a driver to check for a child in the backseat before exiting the car.
SC DHEC's “Look Before You Lock” wrist tag is designed to remind a driver to check for a child in the backseat before exiting the car.

South Carolina is famous for many things, but in particular, hot weather. For that reason, Gov. Henry McMaster has issued a proclamation declaring April 29-May 3, 2024, as “South Carolina Heat Safety Week.”

This week, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is partnering with the South Carolina State Climatology Office, the National Weather Service, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the S.C. Emergency Management Division to promote proper safety to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.

“We are excited to join the governor and our partners in the state’s effort to increase awareness surrounding heat safety in South Carolina,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC director, in a statement. “It is critically important for South Carolinians to understand the risks associated with heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be deadly, and how to reduce those risks. Most heat strokes and deaths are preventable.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1,220 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year, with infants & children among those who are disproportionately affected.

Research by San Jose State University’s Department of Meteorology & Climate Science revealed that 969 children have died in hot cars due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) since 1998, with the majority of those children under the age of two; more than half of those cases were due to a caregiver forgetting a child was in the car.

In an effort to prevent this, DHEC recently implemented the “Look Before You Lock” Bracelet Reminder System. It features a bracelet with a tag, designed to be worn on the wrist while driving with a child in the back seat. Once the child is safely removed from the car, the driver attaches the tag to the harness of the child’s car seat. If the driver walks away from the vehicle with the tag still on their wrist, the tag will alert the driver that the child is still in the vehicle.

DHEC has also developed an interactive Heat Related Illness Dashboard that features interactive pages showing data specific to each county in South Carolina.

The agency encourages residents and those visiting the state to pay close attention to local weather forecasts from the National Weather Service and local meteorologists and to stay hydrated, find cool spaces, and be aware of early signs of heat-related illnesses.

Linda Núñez is a South Carolina native, born in Beaufort, then moved to Columbia. She began her broadcasting career as a journalism student at the University of South Carolina. She has worked at a number of radio stations along the East Coast, but is now happy to call South Carolina Public Radio "home." Linda has a passion for South Carolina history, literature, music, nature, and cooking. For that reason, she enjoys taking day trips across the state to learn more about our state’s culture and its people.