April 26th is National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention Day.
Heatstroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency.
According to KidsAndCars.org, on average, 37 children die of heatstroke in hot cars every year. Experts say these tragic accidents are 100 percent preventable. Summer is still a couple of months away. However, five children under the age of three have already lost their lives due to being trapped in hot cars.
In 2002, Kaitlyn's Law was enacted as a result of the death of 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell, who was left unattended in 100 degree heat by her babysitter for several hours only to be found dead thereafter. Kaitlyn's Law makes it illegal for children aged six years or younger to be left unattended in a vehicle without supervision of a person who is 12 years or older.
KidsAndCars.org believes education and technology can help prevent heat stroke tragedies. Parents and caregivers can use the following safety tips:
Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
"Look Before You Lock" - Get in the habit of always opening the back door to check the back seat before leaving your vehicle. Make sure no child has been left behind.
Create a reminder to check the back seat.
Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., in the back seat so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts. If your child will not be attending daycare as scheduled, it is the parent’s responsibility to call and inform the childcare provider. If your child does not show up as scheduled; and they have not received a call from the parent, the childcare provider pledges to contact you immediately to ensure the safety of your child. (This is very similar to the ‘absence-line’ used by most elementary, middle and high schools)
Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
Use drive-thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) and pay for gas at the pump.