Summer is here, and the break from school means many children are spending more time in the car with their parents. Whether hitting the road for a family vacation or driving down the street for a quick stop at the grocery store, child safety is something that is crucial to consider on every trip.
Summer also marks rising temperatures – this is not news. But with the daily routines and distractions of parenting, it is possible to overlook or underestimate a very real risk to children: Heatstroke. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 100-degrees within 10 minutes. Dozens of children die each year while unattended in a vehicle.
In fact, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. Since 1998, more than 500 children have died this way. Take a moment to think about that number – this means one child every ten days has died of heat stroke over the past five years. That statistic is heartbreaking, and has forever altered the lives of far too many families.
The reasons vary – a curious child climbs into an unlocked car in the driveway and gets locked inside, unnoticed. A parent drives to work on autopilot and forgets to stop at daycare. A quick stop at the supermarket takes longer than expected. Consider that the body of a small child heats three to five times faster than an adult’s, and a short time alone in a vehicle can be deadly.
Through the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car program, the GM Foundation and Safe Kids Worldwide urge parents to remember simple tips toACT: Avoid leaving your child alone in a car – even for a minute. Create reminders for yourself. Take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle.
These types of tragedies can happen to anyone, but they are 100 percent preventable. Whether you are a parent, a caregiver or just a concerned bystander, please remain diligent, observant and aware of the safety of the children around you this summer.
Safe Kids President and CEO, Kate Carr recently discussed the ways they’re partnering with the GM Foundation on heatstroke prevention. Click here to listen to the GM Connections podcast.
For more information on the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car program, please visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke
Vivian R. Pickard
President, General Motors Foundation