June 8 is National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention & Awareness Day, a time to call attention to the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles, even if for just a few minutes, and even in moderate temperatures.
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) will join advocacy groups DCCCA, Safe Kids, KidsinCars.org, the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, and Child Care Aware for several vehicle heat safety demonstrations at the Kansas State Capitol Building, Topeka, this summer. The first demonstration will be held Friday, June 10.
“Leaving a child in a hot car is often not an intentional act, but it can have devastating consequences,” said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “This is why it’s so important we do all we can to remind ourselves that children are in the vehicle and get them out when we get out.”
DCF has at its service centers throughout the state, signage reminding families to bring their children inside with them (photo below at the DCF Lawrence Service Center). Secretary Gilmore encourages Kansas businesses and organizations to post similar reminders.
According to KidsandCars.org, the majority of hot car deaths happen when a parent is fatigues and having a change in their normal daily routine, leading to them unknowingly leaving their baby in the back seat. Also, approximately one-third of deaths occur when a child gains access to a vehicle but is unable to get out.
“We encourage individuals in all communities to take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Try to find the driver of the vehicle, call 911, and if the child seems to be in imminent danger, break the window farthest away from the child to rescue him/her,” said director of KidsAndCars.org, Amber Andreasen.
KDOT traffic safety educators will demonstrate at the South Steps Friday events at the Statehouse this summer the heat inside vehicles. The participating groups will provide written materials, including “Feel the Heat” posters that ask “Where’s the Baby.”
WHO: KDOT, DCF, DCCCA, Safe Kids, KidsandCars.org, Child Care Aware
WHAT: Informational event and demonstration to highlight vehicular heatstroke safety
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, June 10 and 24, July 8 and 22, and Aug. 5
WHERE: Kansas State Capitol Building, south side, Topeka
According to the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University, 670 children have succumbed to heatstroke in vehicles since 1998. The vast majority of deaths were children five years old or younger, with more than half being children under two.
A study by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science showed the temperature in a car rises considerably within the first 20 minutes. On average the temperature rose 19 degrees in the first 10 minutes, up to 29 degrees within 20 minutes, and continued to rise, up to as much as 55 degrees over a couple of hours. The study showed leaving windows cracked open had little effect, and that the interior color of the vehicle appeared to be the biggest factor.
For additional information, statistics and charts specific to child vehicular heat stroke, visit www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html.