Did you know that once every nine days, an innocent child tragically dies due to heatstroke in a vehicle? Since 1990, more than 750 children have died in these preventable tragedies - that's an average of 37 children that die needlessly, every single year. The official start of summer hasn't even arrived yet - and already, ten children across the US have died this year from heatstroke inside of vehicles. (That's a 250% increase over last year at the same time.)
Here are five things that you can do to participate in National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Day... [READ MORE...]
1) Get involved on Social Media
KidsAndCars.org and their safety partners will be posting facts and safety tips throughout the day and are calling on the public and media outlets to join them in supporting this national effort. You can find photos, graphics and posts to share, HERE - and connect with KidsAndCars.org on social media:
- Become a Facebook fan of Kids and Cars
- Follow Kids and Cars on Twitter
- Connect with Kids and Cars on LinkedIn
- Subscribe to Kids and Cars on YouTube
- Sign up for the Kids and Cars e-newsletter
2) Understand that it can happen to anyone
"The worst thing that any parent or caregiver can do is to think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable of unknowingly leaving their child 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. "This can and does happen - to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents. No one is immune."
The Peabody family of Phoenix, AZ, lost their daughter, Maya, to heatstroke in October of 2008. The Peabodys are a perfect example of devoted and caring parents, who have been foster parents, adoptive parents and advocates for dozens of under-privileged children. Says Dawn Peabody, "I never thought this could happen to my family. My husband is a loving, responsible and doting father who goes far beyond expectations when it comes to keeping our children safe. If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. Our family will never be the same."
3) Start practicing "Look Before You Lock"
Through the "Look Before You Lock" educational campaign, KidsAndCars.org has already distributed more than 750,000 safety information cards to birthing hospitals nationwide.
4) If see a child alone in a vehicle, take action
"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 furthest away from the child in order to rescue them," stresses Amber Andreasen, director of KidsAndCars.org. The organization even offers a small tool called resqme™, an all-in-one seatbelt cutter and window breaker that fits on your keychain. The spring-loaded device is tapped on the corner of a car window and the glass is shattered.
5) Support changes in legislation and automobile technology
In recognition of National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention and Awareness Day (June 8), grieving parents have sent a letter to Anthony Foxx (Secretary of the Department of Transportation) and Dr. Mark Rosekind (Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), calling for immediate action on this pervasive problem. These families insist that changes in technology could prevent parents and caregivers from unknowingly leaving children alone in vehicles. Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA administrator, is working towards making requirements in safety standards - including technology that alerts the driver if a child is inadvertently left behind. "Other lifesaving technologies to save children are now standard equipment on all vehicles. Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), trunk releases, rear view cameras in 2018, and safer power window switches are great examples where a deadly problem existed and a cost-effective solution was required by the government to make vehicles safer for children; and these advancements have saved countless lives."