For Immediate Release: July 18, 2012
Safety Advocates, Law Enforcement Join Forces to Prevent Child Heatstroke in Hot Cars
International, national and state representatives gather at Wake Tech Public Safety Campus
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today joined Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, the president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe Kids North Carolina coalition members, and representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Governor's Highway Safety Program in hosting a joint press conference and safety demonstration to help raise awareness about child hyperthermia.
North Carolina accounted for 19 of the approximately 530 children who have died from hyperthermia in vehicles nationwide between 1998 and 2011. The June 2012 death of a Burke County toddler adds to this figure and counts as the first such death in North Carolina in three years. Even without this year's record-breaking heat, deaths from hyperthermia peak in North Carolina during July and August.
"I know I speak for safety advocates everywhere when I say that losing one more child to this preventable tragedy is simply unacceptable," said Goodwin, state chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. "We will work together at all levels, and in all communities, to save other families from enduring the heartbreak of a child's heat-related vehicle death."
The press conference, held at the Wake Tech Public Safety Education Campus in Raleigh, included brief remarks by Reginald McKinnon, a parent who suffered personal tragedy due to hyperthermia, and was followed by a sample 911 call and rescue demonstration conducted by the Wake County Sheriff's Office, Wake County EMS and the Raleigh Fire Department.
"Everything we know about this terrible danger to children indicates heatstroke in hot cars can happen to any caregiver from any walk of life - and the majority of these cases are accidental tragedies that can strike even the most loving and conscientious parents," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "We hope this campaign not only helps caregivers avoid accidentally harming a child, but also clears up some of the misconceptions about the causes of child heatstroke in cars."
When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 5-10 minutes, even with a window rolled down 2 inches. Children's bodies in particular overheat easily, and infants and children under 4 years old are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness.
Adults should heed the following important safety tips to keep children safe:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child's car seat to help you remember to look in the back before leaving the car.
- Set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children at school or daycare when routines change.
- Make an agreement with your child's school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.