AskPatty joins KidsandCars and NHTSA to Reduce Heat Stroke Deaths with “Look before you Lock” Campaign
Because 24 children have already died in hot cars this year, KidsAndCars.org and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are relaunching its annual “Be Safe” and "Look Before You Lock" heatstroke awareness campaigns. The NHTSA says heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of all non-crash-related fatalities involving children 14 and younger, representing 61 percent of total non-crash fatalities in this age group.
Starting with Heat Stroke Prevention Day on July 31, KidsandCars.org, along with other child-safety advocacy groups and the NHTSA, have increased their summertime efforts to raise awareness and educate parents and caregivers about ways to prevent children from being unknowingly left alone in a hot vehicle.
On Heat Stroke Prevention Day, July 31, KidsAndCars.org volunteers visited birthing centers in cities across the country to distribute “Look Before You Lock™” safety education cards for new and expectant parents. KidsAndCars.org, the only and leading national nonprofit group dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles, to date has distributed over 320,000 of the safety information cards to birthing centers and hospitals nationally.
The number of child heat stroke deaths in vehicles continues to average approximately 37 per year; or about one every 10 days. Since the group began tracking data, at least 670 children have died in these preventable tragedies.
The interior temperature of a parked car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, even when the windows are partially open. Children are especially vulnerable to heat stroke, as their body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult's. A review of child heatstroke cases by NHTSA showed that heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperatures were 80 degrees F or less. In fact, heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees.
All parents need to carefully follow the guidelines for placing car seats in the back seat - the safest place for children to ride. Additionally, babies should ride rear-facing in their car seats till age two, according to the guidelines prescribed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At the same time, parents must understand that while requiring children to ride in the back seat has saved many lives, it also requires drivers to take extra precautions to avoid children from being unknowingly left alone in a vehicle. "Following KidsAndCars.org's 'Look Before You Lock' safety education tips doesn't cost a penny, and provides several layers of protection so your child will not be unknowingly left in a vehicle," Fennell added. "We never know when there might be a day that our memory fails us, so we urge parents to implement these easy-to-follow instructions so that they become a habit for them and all who care for their child."
• Get in the
habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your
destination to check to make sure no child - or pet - has been left behind.
• Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat. Right before the child is placed in the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the back seat.
• Put something you'll need on the floorboard in the back seat in front of your child's car seat (cell phone, handbag, employee ID, briefcase, etc.). This ensures you open the back door of your vehicle to retrieve your belongings.
• Make arrangements with your daycare provider or babysitter to call you within 10 minutes if your child does not arrive as expected.
• Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute. Instead, use drive-thru services when available.
• Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children. When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
NHTSA also recommends the following tips as part of its own “Where’s Baby: Look Before You Lock” Campaign
• Don’t let children play in an
unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area;
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away;
• Take steps to remember not to leave a child in a vehicle:
• Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
Finally, if you should see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not in an ice bath but by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose).
AskPatty joins with the NHTSA and KidsAndCars.org, and urges you to follow these tips to help prevent summertime heat stroke tragedies!