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How to prevent heatstroke deaths
KidsAndCars.org offers several safety tips, including:
- Always open the back door when you park to check that no one's left behind.
- Place an item that you can't start your day without in the back seat, such as a cellphone or wallet.
- Tell your childcare provider to call you immediately if your child hasn't arrived on time.
- Clearly state and confirm who is getting each child out of the car.
- Always keep vehicles locked and car keys out of children's reach so that they can't get into the car on their own.
- Teach your kids to honk the horn if they become stuck inside a car.
The safety debate
Recently, a bill called Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats(HOT CARS) Act of 2019 was introduced in Congress. It's the latest attempt to put a stop to the dozens of children dying each year after being left in a hot car, often because parents and caregivers simply forgot their kids were in the back seat.
The House and the Senate are considering two different versions of the new bill. The one in the House will likely require car manufacturers to include a warning sound in cars that alerts the driver if someone is in the back seat when the engine is switched off. (Some cars, such as Kia Telluride and Hyundai Santa Fe, already have this, according to the New York Times.)
The Senate's version of the bill wouldn't require this same kind of occupancy sensor alarm system. That's disappointing for car-safety advocates, who have long campaigned for better child safety features in cars, including a rear-seat occupancy alarm system.
Car manufacturers, represented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, don't think more safety systems will help. Instead, they say parents need to be educated about the danger hot cars pose to kids.
Meanwhile, children continue to die annually from extreme temperatures inside cars. Already this year, 11 kids have died from vehicular heatstroke, according to the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. During the past 20 years, more than 800 children have perished in hot cars.
How does this happen?
Most of these deadly accidents happen because a parent's memory simply failed them. Other reasons include being distracted and miscommunicating with another parent or caregiver.
It's important to understand that temperatures inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, and that cracking the window open won't help. Kids' bodies are highly susceptible to overheating. In fact, children have died from heatstroke in cars in temperatures as low as 60 degrees, according to KidsAndCars.org.
Get more safety tips from KidsAndCars.org. Also, check out these other safety basics for parents for more tips on keeping your little one safe.
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