By Debbie Hersman
Summer is fast approaching and kids are pouring outside to play. Sadly, every year we hear too many news reports about children being struck and killed by a vehicle or dying from heat stroke because of being trapped in a vehicle. The statistics are sobering.
According to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit group that works to improve child safety around cars, every week in the United States at least 50 children are backed over by a car. Forty-eight are treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least two children die. Last year, nearly 50 children died from hyperthermia after being left in a hot car – the greatest number since the statistics started being tracked.
These accidents are preventable. Education is the first step.
Last Friday, at the William Halley Elementary School in Fairfax Station, VA, J.J. Current and Gary Barnes, safety experts from Safe Kids Worldwide, joined me to provide a transportation safety presentation to more than 90 second graders.
Both in the classroom and in the parking lot, we showed students how to stay safe in and around cars. During a Spot-the-Tot demonstration, students simulated playing in a driveway and sat on a carpet that extended up to 18 feet behind the vehicle. A teacher behind the wheel reported that, despite knowing children were behind the car, she couldn’t see a single one.
Drivers need to be attentive before they even get into the car. Walk around your parked vehicle to check for children, or anything that can attract a child, such as pets or toys, under or behind your vehicle before getting in and starting the engine.
As for heat deaths, many people don’t realize that a child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s and can be at risk from being left in a hot car for just a few minutes. The solution for this is straightforward: Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
There are just a few ways to keep children safe in and around cars. Find out more at: www.usa.safekids.org.