Grandmother, aerospace worker, mother, software engineer, aunt, father, daycare employee, attorney, teacher, healthcare worker.
What do these people have in common? They all unintentionally left a child to die in a hot car.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.
- On average, every 8 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle in the United States.
- Since 1998, more than 700 children have died. More than half of these deaths resulted when a parent or caregiver forgot a child in a car.
- 28 percent of deaths occurred when a child played in an unattended vehicle.
Even good parents and caregivers can make mistakes.
Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the following tip: Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death. Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure to keep your vehicle locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
C: Create reminders. Put something in the back of your car next to the child you are transporting, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Vermont law (§ 5784) protects someone from civil liability if they damage a vehicle to rescue a child (or animal). The law requires the person to take a few steps that include:
- Verify that the vehicle is locked
- Notify local law enforcement, fire department, or a 911 operator prior to forcibly entering the vehicle.
- Leave a note on the vehicle regarding the whereabouts of the child (or animal).
- Remain in a safe location reasonably close to the motor vehicle until a law enforcement, fire, or other emergency responder arrives.
Find more safety information at http://www.safekids.org/heatstroke.
Maureen Johnson is the Child Passenger Safety Specialist at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital/University of Vermont Medical Center. Call 802-847-1215 with car seat questions and to schedule a free car seat inspection!