Officials urging parents to be vigilant as hot car deaths rise

- In a week, three children have been left in hot cars across the country, two were in Florida.

On Friday, a 17-month-old in Pembroke Pines was left in hot car and later died. Police said the child’s mother drove to the medical facility for work and left him unattended in the vehicle for about eight hours. In Orange City, an 8-month-old was left unattended in a car. Thankfully, someone spotted the baby boy in the car and rescued him. His caretaker told investigators she had forgotten the baby in the car after stopping off several other children with a family member, and was arrested.

On Monday, a 6-month-old in Cleveland, Ohio was found unresponsive in a hot car.

On average, 37 children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles, according to non-profit Kids and Cars, and it's 100-percent preventable. A total of 25 children have died in 2018. 

“People often think that something like this could never happen to them,” said Amy Stracke, managing director of traffic safety advocacy for AAA and executive director of the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “However, the majority of heatstroke deaths are accidents, where a parent or caregiver forgets the child is in the back seat.”

AAA and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation suggest the following safety tips to help keep children safe:

- Make it a Habit – Before locking your vehicle, check the front and back seat.
- Set an Alarm – Consider programming an alarm on your phone that will go off to remind you to check your vehicle.
- Caregiver Assistance - If you normally drop your child off at a babysitter or daycare, ask the caregiver to call you if your child doesn’t show up as expected.
- Add a Reminder- Put your purse/wallet or cell phone in the back seat. This way you are reminded to look in the back seat before leaving the vehicle.
- Don’t Leave Them Alone, Not Even for a Minute - Never leave children unattended in a vehicle -even if the windows are open or the air conditioning is running.
- Vehicles Aren’t Play Areas - Don’t let children play in an unattended vehicle.
- Put Keys Out of Sight - Always lock your vehicle – even in driveways and garages - and keep keys out of children's reach.
- Call for Help - If you see a child or pet alone in the car, call 911 immediately and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.

For more information on preventing injuries and death to children from vehicle-related incidents, click over to the Kids and Cars website: kidsandcars.org.

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