The weather is heating up, and so is the danger that a child will die in a hot car. In fact, five children have already died so far this year:

  1. A boy, 1, died Feb. 6 in Pinecrest, Florida
  2. A boy, 2, died Feb. 28 in Brandon, Florida
  3. A girl, 3, died March 28 in Ville Platte, Louisiana
  4. A boy, 1, died April 4 in Vestavia, Alabama
  5. A boy, 23 months, died April 14 in Burleson, Texas

Heatstroke deaths are not rare, isolated tragedies.  In an average year, an innocent child dies of heatstroke in a vehicle once every ten days.  Safe Kids Metro KC wants to make sure that no child has to die this way.  One way to do this is to share the message with everyone, and everywhere possible, because one of the biggest challenges is that nobody thinks this could ever happen to them. But it can happen to anyone.

According to www.safekids.org, almost 800 children have died in these preventable tragedies since they started keeping track in 1990.  An average of 37 children die needlessly every year from vehicular heatstroke.

In 2016 a total of 39 children died across the United States.

In the majority of cases, a loving, responsible parent or caregiver actually forgot that the child was in the car.  The next most common reason is that the child got into the vehicle on their own and was unable to get out.

“A child’s body absorbs more heat than an adult’s. A temperature of 107 degrees is lethal to a little child,” explains DuJuan Hord, Safe Kids Metro KC Coordinator.  “Parents and caregivers can help avoid this unthinkable tragedy by learning some new habits when they’re transporting little ones.”

Remember to ACT:

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone, that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you are not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Take it a Step Further: Create Reminders and Communicate with Daycare

  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door.
  • Use a visual reminder like a window sticker to help yourself and others remember your child.
  • Create a calendar reminder for your electronic devices to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare.
  • Ask your childcare center or babysitter to call or text you if your child doesn’t arrive on time.
  • Place a toy in the passenger seat of your vehicle as a reminder that there is a child in the car.
  • If there’s a diaper bag, put it in the front seat.

Sometimes it’s a by-stander who is able to help by taking immediate action if they see a child alone in a vehicle.  In 2016, several quick-thinking women at a mall in the Kansas City area were able to rescue a child who had been left in a car outside a shoe store. This was one incident with a happy ending. However, they struggled to find an appropriate tool with which to break the window.

The organization KidsAndCars.org offers a small tool called resqme™, an all-in-one window breaker and seatbelt cutter that fits on a keychain.  To break the glass, simply tap the spring-loaded device on the corner of a car window. (http://www.kidsandcars.org/resqme-tool/)

There is not just one thing that will end hot car deaths.  The problem is multi-faceted.  For instance, technology to warn the driver a child has been left in the car, as well as legislation to make it mandatory, is in the works.  As a result of Safe Kids efforts, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), is once again planning to post the messages on their electronic SCOUT highway signs all over the state this summer, and it’s been printed on the back of their driver training booklets since last year.

Another powerful tool is social media. Using the hashtags #heatstrokekills and #lookbeforeyoulock, Safe Kids will post facts and safety tips throughout the summer months about ways to prevent child vehicular heatstroke.  Please join the effort, and share the life-saving message.

A wealth of facts, statistics, charts and resources are available at https://www.safekids.org/heatstroke  and http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html

Contacts:

DuJuan Hord, Safe Kids Metro KC Coordinator, dhord@mchc.ent (816) 283-6242 ext. 244

Anne Biswell, Communications Coordinator, MCHC abiswell@mchc.net (816) 283-6242 ext. 226

 

###