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Record Number of Children Dying From Heatstroke After Being Left in Vehicle

June 19, 2019, 8:00 AM HST (Updated June 19, 2019, 8:00 AM)
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The Hawai’i Police Department is asking for your help in reminding friends and family to be sure to “Check for Baby” when operating a vehicle and especially when you stop and get out.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, have reached a record number. In 2018, 52 children lost their lives—the most in over 20 years. This year is off to a sad start with the 11th such death reported on June 8.

More than half of vehicular heatstroke cases from 1998 to 2018 were because an adult forgot about a child, according to NoHeatstroke.org.

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Among the trends the group discovered in these incidents:

  • About 44% of the time, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare or preschool.
  • The end of the workweek—Thursdays and Fridays—saw the highest number of deaths.

You may be asking yourself: How does this happen? Families who lost a loved one thought the same thing at one point, but then the tragedy happened to them. Let this be your reminder to keep alert, avoid distractions, and put safeguards in place, so your child is never left in the backseat.

Tips for Adults With Kids in the Car

  • Place a briefcase, purse, or cell phone next to the child’s car seat so that you’ll always check the back seat before leaving the car.
  • Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty. Move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
  • Set a rule for your child care provider; have them call you if your child doesn’t arrive as scheduled.
  • Life can be very busy nowadays. It only takes being distracted for a moment or a change in a normal routine to set up a potentially dangerous situation for a child. Please take the time to talk to someone about the dangers of leaving a child in a car unattended.
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