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- TRRT Online Edition | July 1-7
National Heat Stroke Prevention Day begins with mourning the loss of another child
California boy becomes 19th child vehicular heat-stroke victim
Online Staff Report
The 19th child to die of vehicular-related heat stroke was a 3-year-old boy discovered Wednesday, July 30, inside a hot car at his home in Sylmar, California. The entire family was napping when somehow the young boy got out of the home and entered the family vehicle.
KidsAndCars.org, the leading and only national organization solely dedicated to keeping children safe in and around motor vehicles, has noted an increase in the number of heat stroke deaths this year involving children who have entered unlocked vehicles on their own. On a national basis, for the past 20 years, approximately 30 percent of children die in hot cars when they get inside on their own. This year seven of the 19, or 37 percent of children, have died in these circumstances.
While most parents think this could never happen to them or their family, children continue to lose their lives in hot cars.
“Whether they are unknowingly left alone in a vehicle or somehow gain access on their own, parents and families across the country are forced to endure the worst tragedy imaginable,” said Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org.
Yet these tragedies are preventable.
“Most parents try to take every precaution to childproof their homes, but unfortunately many parents do not realize the importance of childproofing their car,” Fennell added. “Vehicles should always be locked, even if they are in the garage or driveway. Also, parents should ensure that any inoperable vehicles that may be in their neighborhood are always locked so curious children cannot get inside.”
The KidsAndCars.org “Look Before You Lock” educational campaign, the first of its kind, has distributed more than 500,000 information cards to hospitals with birthing centers nationwide,” said Sue Auriemma, volunteer professional with the organization. “We really want to emphasize the “lock” part of this message to ensure children can’t get in vehicles by themselves. It’s also very important to keep keys and/or remote openers out of the reach of children.
Safety Tips from KidsAndCars.org
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floorboard in the back seat underneath the child’s car seat.
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
- Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
- Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway.
- Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
- When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule chnges and periods of crisis or holidays.
- Use drive-thru services when available. (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.)
- Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
For additional information, statistics and charts specific to child vehicular heat stroke visit Kidsandcars.org/heatstroke.html