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National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention Day Is Today
Updated April 26, 2017 6:57 AM
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(UNDATED) - Today is the first National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention Day.

KidsAndCars.org points out that heatstroke deaths are not rare, isolated tragedies.

On average, once every nine days an innocent child dies of heatstroke in a vehicle. It is of paramount importance that we work together to continue to raise awareness and prevent these deaths.

Already this year five children have died from heatstroke inside vehicles, and summer is still two months away:

  • A boy, 1, died Feb. 6 in Pinecrest, Florida
  • A boy, 2, died Feb. 28 in Brandon, Florida
  • A girl, 3, died March 28 in Ville Platte, Louisiana
  • A boy, 1, died April 4 in Vestavia, Alabama
  • A boy, 23 months, died April 14 in Burleson, Texas

Since 1990, almost 800 children have died in these preventable tragedies. An average of 37 children die needlessly every year from vehicular heatstroke. In 2016 a total of 39 children died. One of the biggest challenges; nobody thinks this could ever happen to them.

"If you're a parent or caregiver, ask yourself, 'What steps can I take to make sure our child is never left behind,'" says Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the leading national nonprofit child safety organization working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles.

Safety steps include:

  • Put something in the back seat so you have to open the back door when leaving the vehicle - cellphone, employee badge, handbag, left shoe, etc.
  • Every time you park your vehicle open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind. "Look Before You Lock."
  • Ask your childcare provider or babysitter to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn't arrived on time.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat and move it to the front seat to remind you when your baby is in the back seat.
  • Focus on driving and avoid cellphone calls and any other distractions while driving.
The public can also help. KidsAndCars.org encourages individuals to take immediate action if they see a child alone in a vehicle. "Call 911, and try to find the driver. But if the child is in imminent danger, it may be necessary to break the window furthest away from the child to rescue them," stressed Fennell. The organization offers a small tool called resqme™, an all-in-one window breaker and seatbelt cutter that fits on a keychain. To break the glass, simply tap the spring-loaded device on the corner of a car window. (http://www.kidsandcars.org/resqme-tool/) Using the hashtags #heatstrokekills and #lookbeforeyoulock, KidsAndCars.org will post facts and safety tips throughout the day about ways to prevent child vehicular heatstroke. The group is also calling on the public and media outlets to use these hashtags to share information on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

"We believe education along with technology solutions, such as systems to warn when a child is left behind, are the most effective way to prevent these tragedies," Fennell added. To educate new parents, the organization has distributed more than 750,000 safety information cards to birthing hospitals nationwide through its "Look Before You Lock" educational campaign, the first program of its kind.

For additional information, statistics and charts on child vehicular heat stroke visit:
http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html.



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