The List: Protecting kids from deadly hot vehicles

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By Sarah Berkshire

The News-Enterprise

The Kentucky Department for Public Health recently unveiled the elements of a national awareness campaign to help reduce child vehicular deaths caused by heat stroke. The unveiling came shortly after an incident in Louisville in which a 2-year-old died after being left in a hot car.

Last year, the worst year on record, 49 children in the United States died from heat stroke while unattended in vehicles.

The “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car,” with a network of 600 SafeKids USA groups around the country behind it, recommends the following measures:

n Create reminders. More than half the deaths occur when everyday working people have a change in morning routine. To help prevent these tragedies parents can place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that isneeded at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings. Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your childoff at day care. Set your computer calendar program toask, “Did you drop off at day care today?” Establish a plan with your day care that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time, you will be called. Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for day care.

nDon’t underestimate the risk. The inside of vehicles can quickly heat up, even on relatively cool days, so you should never leave your child alone in a car. Don’t underestimate the risks and leave them even “just for a minute.”

n Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.

n Immediately dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults. As a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks first if a child is missing.

Have a suggestion for The List? Email sberkshire@thenewsenterprise.com.