July is the deadliest month for children dying in hot cars and tragically, the U.S. broke a record this year. Last month was the worst in a decade with 11 children dying in cars. Georgia is considered the fifth worse state for deaths.
Keliesha Jones from Safe Kids Savannah says with parents’ busy lives, things do happen. “Surprisingly, a lot of situations that we’re hearing about are true accidents involving your regular every day person and it may not be their typical routine to take their child to school or to daycare and they literally forget,” she said.
“We want to try to get the word out so that we can get people thinking about this so we can teach people a simple way to just be mindful of their children,” says Jones.
Jones has an infant herself and says she follows a routine to make sure she doesn’t forget her child is in the back seat. She puts her bag (which she knows she’ll look for when she arrives at her destination) in the back by her baby’s car seat. “So that once you reach your final destination you have to reach back to get it,” she says.
Jones says if you have an infant, especially in a back facing seat, you won’t see the child in your inside rear view mirror. And there may be no noise to remind you of the child’s presence because infants and toddlers often fall asleep in the car.
And she says if a baby or child is forgotten, it doesn’t always have to be blistering hot for the a bad outcome to occur. “On a mild day say 60 or 70 degrees (with humidity) the temperature in the car can be 20 30 degrees higher than the outside temperature,” she says.
She says the safest thing is “never leave a child alone in a car even for a second.”
She says follow the term ACT –
“A” is for avoiding heatstroke by not leaving a child inside a car and other advice includes making sure your car is always locked even at your home so children can’t get inside on their own.
“C” is for creating a reminder such as putting your bag or a cell phone in the back seat. And this is really important if having your child is not your regular routine.
“T” is for take action. if you see a child alone in a car call 911.
Jones says some people may be reluctant to get involved or worry about getting a busy parent in trouble. She says you may think perhaps the child has only been in the car a minute or two. But she says the point is – you don’t know. And that calling 911 could “save a life.”
She says no one is judging parents, it’s just the opposite. “You don’t want to hear about any family having to experience this, it’s the worst thing that you could ever hear about. But it’s preventable, it’s 100 percent preventable if we just take the time to set those reminders.”