Press Releases

Government’s Tips for Kids to Beat the Heat

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Health; August 15, 2012:  

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Between 1998 and 2010, 32 children in Tennessee died from heat-related causes, with 13 of those fatalities occurring in vehicles. Last month alone, three children died. As the searing heat of summer continues, the Tennessee Department of Health is reminding residents and visitors to increase their efforts to prevent deaths from heat stroke in cars, trucks and SUVs.

“A vehicle’s internal temperature can rise quickly to a dangerous level, so it’s important to never leave a child alone in a car,” said TDH Commissioner John J. Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Any of us can be distracted so we need to take some simple memory steps, like putting something we need when we leave our cars such as a briefcase or purse, beside our child to prevent a distraction from becoming a terrible tragedy.”

Heat stroke can occur when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees F and his or her ability to handle heat is overwhelmed. The first symptoms include dizziness, disorientation and sluggishness, followed by loss of consciousness, hallucinations and rapid heartbeat. When the body’s core temperature reaches 107 degrees F, internal organs often stop functioning.

A study by the San Francisco State University Geoscience Department looked at how quickly heat can rise in a vehicle. To investigate heat build-up, researchers used a dark blue mid-size sedan with a grey interior, with the windows slightly cracked open and ambient temperatures between 72 and 96 degrees F. The temperature increase inside the car was 19 degrees in 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 20 minutes, 34 degrees in 30 minutes, 43 degrees in 60 minutes and between 45 and 50 degrees in two hours.

The Tennessee Department of Health offers these safety suggestions to prevent hyperthermia deaths:

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle.
  • If you see a child left unattended in a hot vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Place a stuffed animal in the child safety seat. When you place your child in the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat with you. The stuffed toy will remind you about the child in the seat.
  • Always lock your car to make sure children cannot get inside while it is unattended.
  • If a child is missing, check swimming pools and bodies of water first, then nearby cars and trucks, including trunks or other spaces that appear to be locked.
  • Place your briefcase, purse or keys beside the child safety seat, so you have to go to the seat before leaving the vehicle and entering a building.
  • Tape a reminder note to your dashboard; the National Weather Service motto is excellent for this: “Beat the heat, check the back seat!”

“Parents may be overwhelmed or have other issues clouding the decision-making process,” said Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP, director of TDH’s Division of Family Health and Wellness. “We all have a responsibility to help; if we see a baby in the backseat, a kind remark such as, ‘That sure is a pretty baby in the seat there,’ could help save a life. If anyone ever sees a baby alone in a hot car, don’t be concerned a parent might get mad about you dialing 9-1-1. The parent might consider you a lifesaver.”

For additional information about hyperthermia deaths, visit

Press Releases

Hauling Larger Hay Loads OK’d on State Roads

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; July, 11, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced an executive order in response to drought conditions and extreme heat impacting Tennessee farmers that allows haulers of hay to carry larger loads as long as they observe other safety requirements.

The order allows for an increase in gross vehicle weight to 95,000 pounds, not exceeding 20,000 pounds per axle load, for semi-truck/trailers. The order also increases the height of trailer loads to 13 feet, 6 inches and the width to a maximum of 14 feet during daylight hours. The increase in width allows haulers to transport standard six- to seven-foot round hay bales side by side, increasing the capacity being hauled per truck without a permit.

The order is valid for 60 days and expires on September 8, 2012. A copy of Executive Order No. 14 is attached.

“What started out as a very promising year has quickly turned devastating for many farmers, who are facing a short supply of hay due to the drought,” Haslam said. “This order will help ensure that hay can be shipped safely and without delay across the state as needed.”

Tennessee is a major producer of hay, which is used to support the state’s $1.3 billion livestock industry. In 2011, Tennessee farmers produced an estimated 3.9 million tons of hay valued at more than $332 million. Hay cutting began earlier than normal this year due to the warm spring, but many farmers have reported reduced hay yields in areas where rainfall has been inadequate.

“With hay stocks low and spring cuttings below normal, many farmers are heading into the fall with less than half the hay they’ll need for the winter,” state Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “The governor’s order will help farmers move hay to where it’s needed at a time when they are already feeding hay because of dried up pastures.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has joined with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation in making the 2012 Tennessee Hay Directory available to help farmers source locally produced hay. A link to the directory and to the University of Tennessee Extension’s Drought and Extreme Heat website for farmers can be found on TDA’s website:

A link to USDA’s latest Crop Progress and Condition Report for Tennessee can also be found on TDA’s website at The report is made available each Monday after 3 p.m. central time April through November.