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Already this spring, seven children across the U.S. have died due to heatstroke after being left unattended in a vehicle.

“Unfortunately, no one is immune to this kind of accident,” Clay said. “With our busy lives and constant demands, it’s all too easy to lose focus and forget that a child is in the car.”

“People don’t realize how quickly a car interior can heat up, Clay said, even on cloudy days. “In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 19 degrees. On an 80-degree day, the inside of a closed car can quickly exceed 100 degrees,” she said. And cracking a window will not keep the inside of the car cool, she emphasized.

To help avoid tragedy, Clay recommends adults remember to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a vehicle, even for a minute. Make sure to leave the vehicle locked when it’s not occupied so kids can’t climb in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of the vehicle next to the child that you will have to retrieve when you reach your destination. A purse, cell phone, briefcase are a good examples. It’s especially important to create this kind of reminder when you’re not following your normal routine. Picking up a child after daycare when you don’t normally have that responsibility would be an example, she said.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond. No one wants a child to die needlessly in a car because passersby failed to call.

Since 1998, more than 550 children across the U.S. have died from heatstroke while unattended in cars. Of these:

  • 52 percent were children forgotten by a caregiver
  • 29 percent were children who got into a vehicle on their own to play
  • 18 percent were cases in which the adult left the child in the vehicle intentionally

The River Cities Safe Kids Coalition works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children. The River Cities Coalition is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.

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