The state Department of Public Health says three Georgia children were among at least 33 children under the age of 4 nationwide who died last year from heatstroke after being left in cars.
The department is joining Safe Kids Georgia and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind parents and caregivers about the danger of heatstroke in young children in hopes of preventing such deaths.
In April, the US Department of Transportation's NHTSA announced it's first national campaign to try to prevent child heatstroke deaths in cars, rolling out an ad campaign urging parents to think, "Where's baby? Look before you lock."
"This campaign is a call-to-action for parents and families, but also for everyone in every community that cares about the safety of children," said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It is hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache."
According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle related deaths for children under the age of 14. In 2011, 33 such fatalities were reported. Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences chronicled the 33 heatstroke deaths – medically termed "hyperthermia" – as well as at least 49 deaths in 2010.
The NHTSA recommends that parents:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected
- Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is left in the vehicle by accident, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat
- Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach
If you do see a child is alone is a hot vehicle, the agency urges community members to immediately call 911.