COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— The U.S. National Safety Council reports that so far in 2022, six children, ages five and younger, have died heat-related deaths after being left in a hot car. All six happened in the last two months, and two of those deaths were Georgia children.
Following the tragic, hot-car death of a Columbus toddler this past weekend, Safe Kids Columbus Executive Director Pam Fair spoke to News 3 about tips and statistics of hot car deaths in the United States.
She says children are at higher a risk of suffering from a heat stroke in a vehicle than adults.
“A child’s body heats up five times faster than in adults. They don’t have the mechanism, the cooling mechanism established in their bodies yet,” she says.
Fair says hot car deaths are often accidents and a result of parents or other adults deviating from their normal routine.
“Most of the time, we see that if you’re off routine in any way when you’re transporting your child, this is when we seem to see those numbers spike. So, being off of your routine in any way is a hazard,” she informs. “People will say, ‘oh, that would never happen to me. I would never forget my child,’ but off routine, we are such creatures of habit. It does, and it can happen. It’s happened across to the United States many, many times.”
Safe Kids Columbus shares a short acronym to remind drivers to take their passengers out of the vehicle before exiting. A.C.T. stand for avoid a heat stroke, create reminders, and take action.
“It’s going to be up to the caregiver, the driver, to make sure that the child is is out of a car seat, especially the little ones. So, that would just be a matter of forming those A.C.T. reminders,” Fair says.
Avoid a heat stroke by never leaving a child unattended in the car for an extended period of time. You can create reminders by placing items like a shoe, purse, or cell phone in the back seat near the child to remind you to check the backseat. Take action, if you see any child in a car alone, immediately call 911.
“It’s really important to use that A.C.T. system to create those monitors to help us because we are busy, and no one would anticipate this being done intentionally,” she says. “We know that these sort of unintentional injuries occur, and so our heart goes out to this family. I know they’re in a state of grief, and so we want them to know that our thoughts and our prayers are with them.”
For more information on the tips and courses offered, visit safekidscolumbusga.org.
June 28, 2022: Child left in car, death investigation underway