National Heatstroke Awareness Day was on July 31st, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration used it to launch their new public safety information campaign, aimed at preventing the vehicular heatstroke deaths of children across the country.
The “Park. Look. Lock.” campaign will feature public service announcements, including radio and digital advertisements, reminding parents to double check that they are not leaving their children unattended in a hot car, and to always lock their cars so children aren’t able to climb in, and become trapped.
At the news conference announcing the campaign, United States Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said: “As we enter the hot summer months, the Department is launching a $3 million information campaign to remind drivers to never leave children unattended in cars and to lock their cars to prevent neighborhood children from entering the heated car.”
The radio ads will run across the nation, but the digital ads will be concentrated in the 18 states that have the highest number of child fatalities due to heatstroke, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
There were 52 child fatalities due to heatstroke in 2019 alone. These were children either intentionally left in a vehicle, or who had managed to become trapped in a car.
It’s a very real danger, because the small bodies of children can heat up much faster, three to five times faster, than larger adult bodies. When someone’s core temperature heats up to 104 degrees, it begins to go into heat shock, and it only takes about 10 minutes for a car to heat up by 20 degrees, so in a very short period of time a car on a hot day can become deadly for a small child.
The NHTSA offered some important guidelines that parents can follow to help ensure the safety of their children, including:
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
- Get into the habit of looking around your vehicle after you park, to check and make sure you haven’t left your child unattended, and lock the door to ensure other children can’t get into the vehicle.
- Consider using some kind of object, such as a stuffed animal or even a note, to help remind you to check your vehicle.
With a little diligence, we can help prevent some truly terrible and tragic incidents.
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