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Safe Kids USA demonstrates escalating temperatures inside vehicle to warn parents about the dangers of heat stroke

Safe Kids USA shares seven tips to prevent future tragedies

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL,  — In an effort to continue educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of heat stroke to children left unattended in vehicles, Safe Kids USA hosted an event yesterday at Test Track at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot® theme park near Orlando, Fla. Through the NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE campaign, Safe Kids USA, along with many other partners such as AAA, is working to increase awareness and reduce heat stroke deaths to children left unattended in vehicles.

During the event, Safe Kids USA demonstrated to Epcot guests at Test Track just how fast the temperature inside a vehicle can increase, putting any child occupant almost immediately at risk. Unfortunately, there have already been three confirmed heat stroke fatalities this year. The first occurred in early March in Florida on a day that reached only 73 degrees, the second occurred in late April in Georgia on a day that reached 86 degrees and the third occurred just six days later in Texas on a day that reached 80 degrees. Between 1998 and 2010, 450 children died from heat stroke because they were left unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive. As summer approaches and temperatures soar, Safe Kids USA reminds parents and caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE is part of Safe Kids Buckle Up (SKBU), the multifaceted child passenger safety program conducted by Safe Kids and sponsored by the General Motors Foundation. SKBU is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the importance of properly restraining children and protecting them in and around vehicles at all times.

“A child’s core body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heat stroke – even on a day with mild temperatures” said Lorrie Walker, training manager and technical advisor for Safe Kids USA. “Our display here at Test Track demonstrated just how fast the temperature inside a car can increase, putting any child occupant immediately at risk. Our goal for this event was to raise awareness of just how dangerous it is to leave a child unattended in a vehicle, as well as to remind parents and caregivers of important safety precautions they can take to avoid this preventable tragedy.”

Safe Kids USA urges all adults to take the following steps:

  1. Call 911 if they see a child unattended in a vehicle.
  2. Never leave children alone in a vehicle – even for a minute.
  3. Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
  4. Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in a back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child before leaving.
  5. Set your computer “Outlook” program to ask you, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  6. Have a plan with your child care provider to call if your child does not arrive when expected.
  7. Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.

More than 50 percent of the children who died from heat stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle. When left unattended by an adult, thirty percent of affected kids gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, became trapped and were overcome by heat. “It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car,” added Walker. “Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children at all times.”

For more information on preventing hyperthermia deaths, please visit www.safekids.org/nlyca and www.ggweather.com/heat. Be sure to NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE in a vehicle.

About Safe Kids USA

Safe Kids USA is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations with the mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. More than 600 coalitions in the United States and nineteen member countries worldwide bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

In partnership with General Motors since 1997, Safe Kids Buckle Up, the child passenger safety program of Safe Kids USA, has inspected 1.2 million car seats; held approximately 60,500 car seat checkup events around the country; donated more than 426,000 car seats to families in need and educated more than 20 million parents and caregivers. For more information, visit www.safekids.org.

About General Motors Foundation

Since its inception in 1976, GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to deserving American charities and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. For more information, visit www.gm.com/corporate/responsibility/community.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.


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