INDIANAPOLIS -- As the temperatures heat up, child advocates are reminding parents to be vigilant about not leaving their children in cars.
Wednesday marks National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention Day.
So far in 2017, five children have died in hot cars, according to the advocacy group KidsAndCars.Org.
In Indiana, records show at least 90 incidents of children left in vehicles and nine deaths since KidsAndCars.Org started keeping records.
“Two-thirds of the heating take place in the first 20 minutes that the car is stopped,” said Susan Auriemma, Vice President of KidsAndCars.Org. “Cracking the windows doesn’t make a difference. A car can still reach 125 degrees within a matter of minutes.”
KidsAndCars.Org wants to remind parents that your car can heat up to deadly levels, even if it’s only 50 or 60 degrees outside.
“Once the baby’s core temperature is above 105 degrees, it starts to take effects on the different systems of the body,” said Auriemma. “A baby’s cooling systems are less mature than yours or mine, so their bodies don’t’ cool as quickly as ours. It doesn’t work as efficiently.”
Experts say it often only takes a phone call or being tired to put parents on auto-pilot.
“It is the worst mistake to make to think that this can't happen to them,” said Auriemma. “If you look historically where children have died, it's some of the most loving, caring and attentive parents. We've had a doctor, a dentist, a veterinarian, an army officer, a NASA rocket scientist, so we need parents to understand this can happen to them, and the failure of the brain's memory doesn't discriminate."
SAFETY STEPS FROM KIDSANDCARS.ORG:
- Put something in the back seat, so you have to open the back door when leaving the vehicle - cellphone, employee badge, handbag, left shoe, etc.
- Every time you park your vehicle open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind. "Look Before You Lock."
- Ask your childcare provider or babysitter to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn't arrived on time.
- Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat and move it to the front seat to remind you when your baby is in the back seat.
- Focus on driving and avoid cellphone calls and any other distractions while driving.
Since 1990, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke.
An average of 37 children die every year from vehicular heatstroke, according to KidsAndCars.Org.