Tips for preventing child deaths in hot cars this summer

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As the temperatures rise, so do the risks for danger involving hot cars.

Over the past month, at least five children around the US have died while trapped in a hot car, but there are new trends to help you understand how this happens and prevent a tragedy in your family.

As parents, we prepare our kids for fun in the warmer weather, but every year stories emerge of unintentional deaths from a child forgotten in a hot car.

“This can happen to anybody and nobody that it’s happened to ever thought it could happen to them,” said Amber Rollins, a Kids and Car Safety Director.

Rollins tracks tragedies to learn how to prevent them. A higher risk of forgetting a child in the back seat happens when a parent drops off children at multiple locations. A change in routine can heighten the risk.

“Returning from a vacation or having a child that’s been out sick from daycare. We see a lot of very similar circumstances. In these cases. They are extremely predictable, but they’re also very preventable,” said Rollins.

While Rollins advocates for more safety measures in new cars, she suggests practical habits can help, such as having a visual clue in the front seat like a teddy bear, or opening the back door every time you exit the vehicle.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue division chief Steve Fessler suggests leaving a purse or wallet beside the car seat.

“Yeah, we’ve had situations like that where we’ve been called to it. Luckily, none of them have been serious to any extent,” said Fessler.

If you see a child in a hot vehicle, the first step is to call 911.

“Get us en route as soon as possible,” Fessler expressed. “Look around and make sure, see if there’s a parent around, check things out if the child is looking like they’re in distress of some sort or even if a pet looks like there’s extreme distress, break a window, and try to help out that child.”

Another emerging trend is young boys crawling into unlocked cars out of curiosity, then getting trapped inside.

Rollins suggests locking parked vehicles, and if a child goes missing, check every car, locked or unlocked, in the area.