MILWAUKEE (5/18/2010) - Warmer temperatures are on the horizon. Safe Kids Wisconsin Coalition is working to increase awareness and urge parents and caregivers to never leave children alone in a vehicle. The warmth of the spring sun can heat the interior of a vehicle very quickly. Already this year, three children have died in the U.S. from being left in a car. Safety experts and child advocates want to remind caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.
Between 1998 and 2009, 445 children died in the U.S. from heat stroke because they were unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive. "A child's body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's and unattended children have no way of protecting themselves in a hot vehicle," said Libbe Slavin, Safe Kids Wisconsin coordinator. "We want parents and caregivers to take precautions so this tragedy does not happen to them."
More than 50 percent of the children who died from heat stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle. When left unattended by an adult, 30 percent of affected kids gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, became trapped and were overcome by heat. It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car. Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach of young children.
Safe Kids Wisconsin urges all adults who transport children to take the following steps:
- Call 911 if they see a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Never leave children alone in a car – even for one minute.
- Set their cell phone reminder to be sure they drop their children off at daycare.
- Set their computer programs to ask, "Did you drop off at daycare today?"
- Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in the back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and see the child.
- Have a plan with their child care providers to call if their children do not arrive when expected.
- Keep keys and remote entry key fobs out of children's reach.
- Lock all vehicles at all times.
- Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.
For more information on preventing hyperthermia deaths, visit www.ggwweather.com/heat and www.safekids.org/nlyca. To interview an expert in childhood injury prevention, contact Alison Nolan, Public Relations specialist, Children's Hospital and Health System, at (414) 266-5420.