National Heatstroke Prevention Day highlights dangers of hot cars and kids

Posted at 8:24 AM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 08:24:32-04

RICHMOND, Va., — Wednesday was National Heatstroke Prevention Day and non-profit Kids and Car Safety (KACS) Director Amber Rollins knows the dangers of hot cars firsthand.

“After 12 years of working on this issue and knowing all there is to know about this topic. I’m an expert on the subject matter and it happened to me when my son was three months old,” Rollins recalled.

Thankfully her son made noise in the backseat and she realized her baby was still inside the car and not at daycare.

However, since 1990, more than a thousand of other kids haven’t been so lucky.

The overwhelming majority of victims who die in hot cars due to heat stroke are five years old and younger.

“We've got a sleep deprived parent, which is pretty much par for the course for people with very young children, and change in the normal daily routine. When the right circumstances align, this can happen to the most responsible, attentive parent,” Rollins stated.

She encourages drivers to play music for children, like Baby Shark, whenever there is a child in the backseat. Moving a large stuffed animal from the child’s car seat to the front seat also symbolizes a kid is still in the backseat.

One fourth of tragedies involves a child gaining access to a car on their own. A majority of those victims are young boys.

“What happens is these kiddos will get into a vehicle. They can open the door from the outside, but then once they're in, they don't know how to get back out,” Rollins said.

Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers:
• Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.
• Take proactive steps to ensure a child is not inadvertently left in a vehicle.
• Place a reminder item (diaper bag, stuffed animal) in the front seat as a visual cue when a child is with you.
• Make it a habit to open the back door and check the back seat every time you leave your vehicle.
• Be especially careful during changes in routine or during busy times.
• Ask childcare providers to call you immediately if your child doesn’t show up as scheduled.
• Prevent children from gaining access to parked vehicles.
• Keep vehicles locked at all times.
• Keep keys and fobs out of reach of children at all times.
• If a child goes missing, check all vehicles' inside, floor, and trunk immediately, even if they’re locked.

By spreading awareness and implementing preventive measures, we can work together to protect our children and prevent future hot car tragedies. Join us in sharing these critical safety tips with your communities today and throughout the summer months.

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