Safe Kids Oregon urges families to “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car”

June 1, 2011

With warm weather and summer vacation just around the corner, and our first warm weather of the year possible this weekend, Safe Kids Oregon reminds families about child deaths from heat stroke.

Safe Kids coalitions throughout the nation have joined with Safe Kids USA and General Motors Foundation to launch the “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” education and awareness program to help reduce the number of child deaths in cars and trucks caused by heat stroke.  Regrettably, the first heartbreak of the year occurred March 8 when a mother unintentionally left her child in the car and went to work. 

Safe Kids USA conservatively estimates that there are 1,000-2,000 near-misses every month.  Forty-nine chidren died in 2010 while left unattended in cars—the worst year on record. Child deaths from heat stroke have occurred as early as February and with an outside temperature as low as 57 degrees F.  It’s important that parents and caregivers need to know why this occurs and what to do to prevent it.

  • Take Immediate Action.  The body temperature of children rises 3-5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke.
  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.  Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.
  • Lock Cars and Trucks.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the US occurred because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Create Reminders.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.  To help prevent these tragedies parents can:

♦ Place a cell phone, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is  needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat.  This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.

♦ Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.

♦ Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”  Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes.

♦ Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.

  • Get Involved.  Download the safety handouts here in English and Spanish and share with friends, grandparents, daycare providers, and co-workers.  Be sure to Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car. 

For more information on preventing child heat stroke deaths, please visit www.ggweather.com/heat and www.safekids.org/nlyca.

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