Officials of the Kansas Department of Transportation have issued a reminder about the dangers associated with leaving children in vehicles when the temperature climbs during the summer.
Officials said a program called Safe Kids Kansas is working to increase awareness and urge caregivers to never leave children alone in a vehicle. The program reminds parents and caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle, with the goal of having no more children die from heat stroke when they are “forgotten” in cars.
From 1998 to present, at least 569 children died from heat stroke because they were left unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive.
“As these tragedies continue to occur, Safe Kids Kansas is intensifying our efforts to get the message out that the inside of a vehicle is an extremely dangerous place for a child alone in hot weather,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Even on a mild day, the inside of a car can quickly become very hot. This is a place no child should be alone, and because children’s bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, this makes them much more susceptible to heat stroke.”
Although most would assume this would never happen to them, there is no common description of the caregiver that has experienced this tragedy. It has happened to caring and responsible families from all socio-economic, geographic and educational backgrounds.
Nine out of ten parents report that they never leave their child alone in a car, but for the one parent that does, things can end tragically. Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.
Safe Kids Kansas ask people to ACT when they see a child in an unattended car. ACT stands for avoid, create and take action.
Avoid heat stroke-related death
•Never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute.
•Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks.
Create reminders and habits
•Establish a peace-of-mind plan. Have your child care provider call you if your child is not dropped off within 10 minutes of their expected time of care. Create a routine of texting or calling other caregivers when you drop your child off at child care so all of you know where your child is at all times.
•Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop in the back seat near the child.
•Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.
•Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a vehicle and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide - they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.
Safe Kids Kansas works to prevent childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children. Coalition members include more than 70 statewide organizations, agencies and businesses and a network of local coalitions across the state. Safe Kids Kansas is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing injuries in children. Safe Kids Kansas was founded in 1991 and is led by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.