11 days into the summer and six children have already died of heatstroke in the U.S. this year. Last year there were 52 deaths. Since 1998, at least 855 children have died due to vehicular heatstroke in the U.S. Alabama and Georgia in the hot south are among the states with the highest number of incidences.
The problem has prompted U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao to launch a $3 million public safety campaign to combat child vehicular heatstroke deaths across the country.
“As we enter the hot summer months, the Department is launching a $3 million information campaign to remind drivers to never leave children unattended in cars and to lock their cars to prevent neighborhood children from entering the heated car,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao.
July 31 is National Heatstroke Awareness Day. But Secretary Chao’s office is getting a jumpstart, launching radio public service announcements on July 1 that will run all summer long reminding parents and caregivers about their precious cargo, encouraging them to always Park. Look. Lock.
The ads will target the 18 states with the highest number of incidences of child heat stroke fatalities:Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Secretary Chao’s office released the following tips for parents to keep their kids safe this summer:
- Keep vehicles locked at all times when parked to prevent a child climbing in and becoming trapped.
- Teach children that vehicles are not a place to play.
- Never leave a child in a vehicle when running errands, not even for a minute.
- Rolling down a window does little to keep a vehicle cool, and heatstroke deaths have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas.
- Bystanders can also play an important role in saving a life – if you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 and get help immediately.