Raleigh, N.C. — Hoping to ward off a summer spike in heat-related child deaths, state officials joined safety advocates Wednesday to remind parents that kids and hot cars don’t mix.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Safe Kids organization held a news conference and demonstration at Wake Tech Public Safety Educational Campus in Raleigh to draw attention to what happens when children are left inside vehicles during extreme heat.
In North Carolina, 19 children died from hyperthermia in vehicles between 1998 and 2011. Experts said these heat-related child deaths - which usually peak in July and August - are easily prevented.
“I know I speak for safety advocates everywhere when I say that losing one more child to this preventable tragedy is simply unacceptable,” said Wayne Goodwin, state chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. “We will work together at all levels, and in all communities, to save other families from enduring the heartbreak of a child’s heat-related vehicle death.”
The event featured a statement from parent Reginald McKinnon, whose child died from hyperthermia, a sample 911 call and a rescue demonstration conducted by the Wake County Sheriff's Office, Wake County EMS and the Raleigh Fire Department.
Hyperthermic deaths and heat-related illnesses occur more often in children than adults, particularly children under 4 years of age. Even when outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only five to 10 minutes.
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when the vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Place a purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.
- Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.
- Make an agreement with your child’s school or daycare to be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.