Child car deaths: Advocates aim to prevent vehicle-related heat deaths for children – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Tuesday, Aug. 23, 20111:51 PM EDT
Child advocates launch campaign to prevent vehicle heat deaths
By Ana M. Valdes, The Palm Beach Post
12:35 p.m. EDT, August 6, 2011
A nationwide campaign is under way to eliminate child heat stroke deaths in vehicles by 2013, and child safety advocates in Palm Beach County and across the country will work through the sweltering summer months to prevent more children from being left to die in hot cars.
The campaign, launched by Safe Kids USA with the support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will tour several states, including Florida, to encourage families and child care officials to implement strategies to keep children from being left in hot vehicles.
In Palm Beach County, the local Safe Kids USA coalition will distribute fliers with tips on how to make sure every child makes it out of the car, such as using a teddy bear to place in a car seat when the child is not riding in the car, and in the passenger seat as a reminder that a child is in the back seat.
At every car seat fitting, parents also will get information about the dangers of leaving kids in cars, and school bus drivers will be trained to look through buses each time kids are dropped off, said Kelly Powell, head of the Palm Beach County Safe Kids USA coalition.
“Our efforts are ongoing and we are doing everything we can to send the message everywhere and let parents know this can happen to anyone,” Powell said. “We are all human, we are all on overdrive and it’s something that can happen. No one is protected from these injuries.”
So far this year, 23 children across the country have died because they were left in overheated vehicles, according to data gathered by San Francisco State University.
The latest child hyperthermia case in South Florida involved 22-month-old Dominicue Andrews from Homestead, who officials say likely died after being left in a van at his day-care center. A 1-year-old died Sunday in Cape Coral after being left unattended in a hot car, his family told police.
Last year, Delray Beach toddler Haile Brockington also died after being left for more than six hours in a van at Katie’s Kids Learning Center. Her death prompted state Sen. Maria Sachs to sponsor a bill that would require every day-care van in Florida to have an alarm that would alert if any child was left behind. The bill was never signed into law, but Palm Beach County commissioners will be voting on a similar ordinance next month.
At least 513 children have died in hot cars in the U.S. since 1998. Of those deaths, about half were children who were forgotten by their parents or caregivers.