TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore and KidsAndCars.org are teaming up to urge parents and caregivers to ensure that children are not left in hot cars. The dangerously high temperatures can create a tragic situation in less time than you might think.
“Even a few minutes in a hot car is too long for a little one,” Secretary Gilmore said.
“Children should never be left alone in a vehicle, especially when we’re seeing triple-digit temperatures.”
Kansas has not experienced any child deaths this year, related to children being left in hot cars. However this week, emergency workers have responded to children left unattended in vehicles.
“The worst thing any parent or caregiver can do is think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable of inadvertently leaving their child behind," says Janette
Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the leading national nonprofit child safety organization working to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around vehicles.
"This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents," she added. Since the group began tracking data, at least 719 children have died from heatstroke inside vehicles. Last year was one of the worst years in history with a total of 44 children deaths. "We need everyone to understand that these tragedies are not only predictable, they are also very preventable," she said.
Safety Tips from KidsAndCars.org
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
- Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
- Make arrangements with your childcare provider that if your child does not show up as scheduled, they will contact you immediately to ensure your child is safe. In turn, you will agree to always call the childcare provider if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
- Ensure children do not have access to an unattended vehicle. Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
- Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked, a child may lock the doors after entering a vehicle on their own.
- Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
To learn more about how to keep children safe in and around vehicles, visit us at: www.KidsAndCars.org. You can also learn about a petition to prevent child heat stroke deaths in vehicles.