Several times a year, KidsAndCars.org sends reminders that children should never be left unattended in a car, and if you transport children “look before you lock.” And yet, as this week’s message reminds us, after 20 years of educating the public about hot cars, the number of children dying continues to rise. In the last few weeks, there were 10 child hot car deaths in 20 days.
“Already this year, 35 children have died in hot cars. Last year was the worst year in history with a total of 53 children that died in hot cars nationwide. Additionally, KidsAndCars.org documented 62 pets that died in hot cars nationwide,” the organization warns.
The average number of deaths per year is 38 — one every nine days. This includes 2-year-old DeVonte Lashawn Turner, a Lawrence boy who died from vehicular heatstroke on Aug. 11; and a 3-month-old girl from Rose Hill who died on June 8.
The same organization addresses other safety issues, such as carbon monoxide poisoning from a running, unattended car. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die in the United States each year due to unintentional, non-fire-related CO poisoning, many of which were vehicle-related.
A key to prevention in both cases is staying aware. “During busy times and changes in routine be extra cautious as distractions and multi-tasking can lead to forgetting to turn the car off, even for the fanatically detail-oriented organized person.” Likewise, this type of distraction can lead to leaving a child in the back seat without realizing it.
The bottom line is, cars can be dangerous; there are many ways people can be injured or killed in or around motor vehicles, and children are especially vulnerable. Technology exists to detect the presence of a child in a vehicle but, as always, the responsibility lies with the adult(s) in the vehicle.