23 Children Have Died of Hyperthermia in Cars This Year

By: From 13 News, Safe Kids, Posted by Ralph Hipp
By: From 13 News, Safe Kids, Posted by Ralph Hipp

TOPEKA – Hot summer days across the country contributed to at least 23 child deaths so far this year from heat stroke when children were left unattended in vehicles. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE) Safe Kids Kansas reminds caregivers to never leave children alone in cars. As a determined advocate in preventing heat stroke, Safe Kids Kansas and Safe Kids Coalitions nationwide have united to educate parents and caregivers with preventative tips to avoid these tragedies.

These horrific incidents are happening far too often, throughout the year and in nearly all 50 states. Safe Kids Coalitions across the US have worked diligently to host hundreds of “Never Leave Your Child Alone” events, which include ad campaigns, brochures, tip sheets, posters and flyers, and heavy engagement from the local community.

"As these tragedies continue to occur, Safe Kids Kansas is intensifying our efforts to get the message out that the inside of a vehicle is an extremely dangerous place for a child alone in hot weather," said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Even on a mild day, the inside of a car can quickly become very hot. This is a place no child should be alone, and because children’s bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, this makes them much more susceptible to heat stroke.”

Although most would assume this would never happen to them, there is no common description of the caregiver that has experienced this tragedy. It has happened to the rich and poor, educated and less educated, women and men, city dwellers and suburbanites, and in all but four state, between 1998-2011. In that same time period, Kansas had eight children die in vehicles.

“Reaching parents and caregivers with ways to prevent these tragedies will no doubt help keep kids safe. These heartbreaking incidents can happen to anyone, and public education is vital to combating these preventable occurrences,” said Sage.

Nine out of ten parents report that they never leave their child alone in a car, but for the one parent that does, things can end tragically. Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.

Together, we can cut down the number of deaths and near-misses by remembering to ACT.

* Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by:

* Never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute.

* Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks.

* Create reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver a safety net:

* Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.

* Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop 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.

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

Safe Kids Kansas works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Its members include over 70 statewide organizations, agencies and businesses. Safe Kids Kansas is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Kansas was founded in 1991 and is led by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment.

Beginning in 1997, General Motors and the GM Foundation have served as Safe Kids Buckle Up's exclusive funding source and helped build the program into a multifaceted national initiative, bringing motor vehicle safety messages to children and families through community and dealer partnerships.

To date, more than 21 million people have been exposed to Safe Kids Buckle Up events and community outreach efforts. Certified child passenger safety technicians working through Safe Kids coalitions have examined over 1.4 million child safety seats at over 75,000 events and the program has donated over 520,000 seats to families in need.

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