Safe Kids Program Aims To Keep Children From Being Forgotten In Cars

A new program from Safe Kids Shawnee County aims to prevent a tragedy that is more common than people might think.

Last year in the United States, 44 children died from being left in hot cars.

Richelle Rumford, trauma manager at Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka, said the most common reason it happens is because a parent simply forgets the child is in the car. She says, with all the distractions of busy lives, sadly, it can easily happen.

Unfortunately, a momentary memory lapse can turn tragic in minutes. Safe Kids Shawnee County co-ordinator Brooke Shumaker, RN, says a vehicle's temperature can rise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, so it doesn't need to be extremely hot outside for the temperature inside the vehicel to be problematic. Once a child's body temperature gets above 104 degrees, she says, body systems can begin to shut down and, at 108 degrees, death can occur.

Safe Kids Shawnee County is working with area day cares to prevent those tragedies. The Call for Safety program lets parents inform their provider the time their child should arrive each day. If the child doesn't show up as scheduled, the parent is contacted. Rumford says the call is for parents to get a reminder before the child might be left behind as they head into work or a meeting.
In other instances, Safe Kids suggests putting a trigger like a stuffed animal on the front seat next to you to remind you the child is in the car. At home, Shumaker says, make sure children know vehicles are not a place in which to play. She says they might get locked inside a vehicle that is parked in the driveway and a parent might have no idea it happened. She suggests keeping car doors locked at home.

Information on the Call for Safety program is available from daycare providers or at

Join Safe Kids Sansas 9 am to 3 pm Saturday, April 26, at the Topeka Zoo for child safety events and information, a scavenger hunt with prizes and more than 200 bike helmets to give away. Regular zoo admission applies.

From Safe Kids USA:
ACT to prevent a tragedy:
AVOID heat stroke-related injury and death. Never leave your child alone in the car, even for a minute, and consistently lock unattended vehicle doors and trunks.

CREATE reminders and habits that will serve as a safety net. Text or call all other caregivers when you drop off your child, so all of you know where your child is at all times. Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or other necessary item in a back seat. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.

TAKE ACTION if you see an unattended child in a vehicle. Dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide. They are trained to determine if a child is in danger.