2011 Toyota Sienna SE: photo by Todd Allen
After a cruel winter in many parts of the country, and some areas still struggling after destructive tornadoes and floods, it’s a breath of fresh air to look forward to summer – and a little relief from all our woes.
But, just as certain as summer follows spring, every year there are senseless deaths of young children because parents or caretakers leave them unattended in the locked family car.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that hyperthermia, also known as heatstroke, is the number one cause of non-crash vehicle deaths in children under the age of fourteen. Every year, hyperthermia causes the deaths of at least 27 children.
Last year was particularly deadly, says Safe Kids USA, which just launched its national educational and awareness campaign, “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car,” in conjunction with its Florida partners and the General Motors Foundation, to help reduce the number of child vehicular deaths due to heat stroke. In 2010, a record 49 children aged two months to six years died from heat stroke while left unattended in vehicles. And two have already perished this year as a result of parents who left them alone in the car accidentally after a long day at work. Safe Kids USA conservatively estimates that there are 1,000 to 2,000 near-misses every month and has confirmed 250,000 cases of children trapped in automobiles.
The same thing happens to family pets, so many of the same cautions apply. Don’t leave them in cars unattended either.