Safe Kids Antonio Hosts “Never Leave Your Child Alone In A Car” Press Conference
“Near Misses” Show Widespread Problem
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Safe Kids USA and Safe Kids San Antonio are teaming up to host a press conference to educate and raise awareness to reduce the number of child deaths in cars and trucks caused by heat stroke. Since March of this year, there have been 21 disturbing incidents of toddlers dying from being trapped in a sweltering car, 5 of which have been in Texas.
Last year 49 children in the U.S., from ages two months to six years, died from heat stroke while unattended in vehicles – the worst year on record. Although Texas has a law addressing children unintentionally left in a car, Texas saw 13 deaths in 2010, more than any other state in the nation. In fact, one in every seven child deaths from heat stroke occurred in Texas since recordkeeping began.
Through the Safe Kids USA network of 600 coalitions and chapters, the “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” (NLYCA) program has united and mobilized a wide range of partners – police and fire, hospitals, government agencies, child care centers, businesses and others – to share with parents and other caregivers prevention messages to address the dangers to children in vehicles.
“Good communication between parents and teachers is the key to child safety and prevention of the devastating effects of hyperthermia,” said Kristie Reeves, a mother who lost her child to hyperthermia this year. “One phone call can save a child’s life.”
“These tragedies can happen anywhere at any time as child deaths in cars and trucks from heat stroke have occurred as early as February and when the outside temperature was as low as 57 degrees F,” said Susan Douglass, Safe Kids San Antonio Coalition Leader. “That’s why our coalitions are mobilizing now to quickly educate parents in their communities. Our coalition network across the U.S. will help alert the 250 million vehicle owners to the dangers because everyone needs to understand this critical issue and how to ensure the safety of children.”
“I am pleased to support Safe Kids on their life saving initiative to prevent these needless tragedies from occurring,” said Congressman Charles Gonzalez. “Reaching parents and caregivers with these safety messages will no doubt help keep kids safe. These heartbreaking incidents can happen to anyone and public education is vital to combating these preventable occurrences.”
Douglass added, “Advanced technologies may help prevent child heat stroke deaths in vehicles and Safe Kids urges child seat manufacturers and automakers to continue research and development of these technologies. However, the near-term emphasis must remain on education and awareness as it will take years for technology solutions to become widespread.”
“Immediately after my daughter’s death due to hyperthermia I felt it was meant for me to do something about it. Not just sit back and feel sorry for myself or my family,” said Michele Terry, a nurse who lost her daughter 6 years ago. “I can only hope that sharing Mika’s story will open up other’s minds and eyes to this tragedy. It can and does happen to responsible, loving, and educated parents/caregivers every year.”
“There is truly no greater tragedy for a parent or caregiver than to suffer the loss of a child, and we know that hyperthermia can kill very quickly,” said Dr. Bryan Alsip, Chief Medical Officer, University Health System. “It’s vital that children never be left unattended in a vehicle and that keys are kept out of a child’s reach. We urge all parents and caregivers to make a habit of looking inside their vehicle – both front and back - before locking the door and walking away. If a child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first since children can become trapped without a way to get out.”
Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know and why.
*Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
*Create reminders. Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
-Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
-Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.
-Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?” Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.
*Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises 3 - 5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.
About Safe Kids USA
Safe Kids USA is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. More than 600 coalitions and chapters across the U.S. and 19 member countries across the globe bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families. For more information visit www.safekids.org.
About the General Motors Foundation and Safe Kids Buckle Up
Beginning in 1997, General Motors and the GM Foundation have served as Safe Kids Buckle Up’s exclusive funding source and helped build the program into a multifaceted national initiative, bringing motor vehicle safety messages to children and families through community and dealer partnerships. To date, more than 21 million people have been exposed to Safe Kids Buckle Up events and community outreach efforts. Certified child passenger safety technicians working through Safe Kids coalitions have examined 1.28 million child safety seats at 65,399 events and the program has donated 457,134 seats to families in need.
Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to deserving American charities, educational organizations and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on supporting Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. For more information, visit www.gm.com/corporate/responsibility/community.
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