LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 19, 2010) – As spring approaches, bringing with it warmer temperatures, Safe Kids Fayette County is working to increase awareness and urge caregivers to never leave children alone in a vehicle. Unfortunately, though it is only March, the first heat stroke fatality has already occurred. With the goal of having no more children die from heat stroke when they are “forgotten” in cars, safety experts and child advocates remind parents and caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.
Between 1998 and 2009, 445 children died from heat stroke because they were unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive.
“A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s and unattended children have no way of protecting themselves in a hot vehicle” says Sherri Hannan, nurse and coordinator of Safe Kids Fayette County, led by Kentucky Children's Hospital. “The overall goal of the campaign we are launching this week is to make sure no more children will die in 2010 because they were unattended in a vehicle. We want parents and caregivers to take precautions so that this tragedy does not happen to them.”
More than half of the children who died from heat stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle. Another 30 percent of affected kids were left unattended and gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, where they became trapped and were overcome by heat. It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death or serious, permanent injury in a hot car. Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children.
Safe Kids Fayette County 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 1 minute.
• Set your cell phone reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
• Set your computer calendar program to ask you, “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 a back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child.
• Have a plan with your child care provider to call if your child does 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.
Safe Kids Fayette County works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Its members include health and safety experts, educators, community leaders, corporations, foundations, government representatives and volunteers to educate and protect families. Safe Kids Fayette County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Fayette County was founded in 1994.