Every summer reports ensue of children who have been found, seriously injured and even died due to being left unattended in a hot car, with no way out. Data provided by kidsandcars.org shows that on average 38 children die in hot cars each year and goes on to show that the number of child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2015, as of July 20, has been 10. Kids and Cars is a national nonprofit child safety organization; whom also released data collected during a study that reveals there were 32 child vehicular heat stroke deaths in 2014 and 44 in 2013. This is much more than about data, it’s about lives; innocent lives that don’t have to be lost. Experts are releasing more information to provide preventative measures and help parents, families, and caregivers keep children safe.
In effort to raise awareness of this issue Kids and Cars launched the Look Before You Lock campaign. The campaign runs for a 24 hour period on social media, on National Heat Awareness Day, May 23, promoting facts and tips using the hashtags #heatstroke, #LookBeforeYouLock, and others. Some tips provided include:
- Simple rule: Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute. In addition to being dangerous, it is against the law in many states.
- Check the car to make sure that all occupants leave the vehicle or are carried out when unloading. If you lock the door with a key, rather than with a remote, it would force that one last look in the car before leaving it.
- Always lock your car and keep keys and remotes away from children.
- To serve as a reminder, keep a stuffed animal on the front passenger seat when carrying a child in the backseat.
- Place something in the backseat that you would need, such as a purse, briefcase or cell phone.
- Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up.
- If you see a child alone in a car, especially if they seem hot, call 911 immediately to help get them out.
Some parents think this is a no-brainer and couldn’t fathom ever forgetting their child in the car. Local Altus mom, Carmen Washington is one of those parents.
“I’ve never left my daughter in a car unattended. I can’t imagine “forgetting” my child for even a minute, and I honestly have no idea how anyone could just leave their kid in the hot car,” Washington said. “The deaths are so sad. It’s awfully ironic how people just “forget” their kids so easily. I don’t buy it, I believe it’s totally preventable. No way should we have so many innocent victims.”
Some experts say that these incidents occur because of the parent or guardian’s lack of knowledge and understanding of the dangers associated with leaving a child in a hot car, and just how quickly everything can go wrong.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car can heat up 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and a child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
In many states leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is illegal but as statistics show, on a hot day it can also have a fatal consequence. In a town such as Altus, where the heat index this weekend is supposed to feel like 108 degrees, this is an issue all need to be aware of and keep an eye out for. If you see a child let unattended in a hot car, immediately call 911. Never turn the other cheek, always do something.
Reach Tinita at email@example.com