Another child died yesterday after being left unattended in a parked car on a sweltering summer day. This time in an affluent town in Connecticut. This isn’t the first story of child vehicular heat stroke to make headlines this summer and, sadly, it probably won’t be the last.
According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in and around vehicles, an average of 38 children die each year as a result of vehicular heat stroke. 44 died last year. There have been at least 15 confirmed reports so far this year. That is far too many lost lives in hot cars.
Reports indicate that 51% of child vehicular heatstroke deaths between 1998-2013 can be attributed to children being “forgotten” by parents or caregivers. 29% occurred because a child (or children) played in an unattended vehicle. In 18% of the cases, the child was intentionally left behind in the car.
Have you seen this video yet? I cried from start to finish.
But still, children are being left behind. This has to stop.
Life is busy and people have a million things to do…believe me, I know. You know what’s more important than everything on that to-do list? The safety and well-being of little kids everywhere. So what do we do? How do we make it stop? I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know that increasing awareness and taking a proactive approach to helping little ones can make a difference.
- Call 911! If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle on a hot day, don’t hesitate. Every moment counts.
- Don’t leave your child unattended in a car. Ever. Not to run for in for milk. Not to get a few groceries. Not to buy stamps. Just don’t do it.
- Write reminders on sticky notes that say “check for kids!” “look before you leave!” or “check the carseats!” and place them on your steering wheel, near the radio, near the rearview mirror, and near your door handle. Reminders can save lives.
- Place the things you need the most – your purse, your briefcase, your beloved phone, on the seat next to your child.
- Lock your car when it is not in use. Kids can climb into cars to play or check things out and get stuck. Cars heat up quickly in the sun (up to 40 degrees warmer than the outside temp). Lock your car for safety.
- Keep car keys away from little kids.
- Talk to older children about NOT climbing into cars alone. They can get stuck, too.
- Look in all windows before you walk away from your car. Sometimes little habits can make a big difference.
Talk to friends and family members. Share tips and tricks. Increase awareness not by sensationalizing the stories, but by engaging people in meaningful discussions and brainstorming ways to decrease these tragedies.
Summer is heating up. Be safe. Be attentive. And always check the backseat.