How to prevent child deaths in hot vehicles

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 9:55 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - GM was the first automaker to install rear-seat reminder technology in 2017.

Several other car companies followed and within the last year the child safety section of the infrastructure bill passed by Congress pushed for even more protection.

A provision in the Infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden last November requires all automakers to install an alert system in all new vehicles reminding drivers to check their backseats before exiting the car.

The hope is to cut down on the number of children that die each year after being left in overheated vehicles.

Since 1998, the National Safety Council says the state of Arkansas reported 18 child deaths in hot cars, Mississippi has experienced 20 child deaths, and in Tennessee 30 children have died, forgotten or locked inside a car, in the sweltering heat.

The danger from high temperatures is particularly acute for young children because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That’s because young children, especially babies, lack the ability to efficiently regulate their body temperature. Children dehydrate more quickly than adults.

Check out this “Look Before You Lock” info graphic:

Efforts to prevent child deaths from being left in hot vehicles
Efforts to prevent child deaths from being left in hot vehicles(WMC)

If it’s 80 degrees outside, the temperature in your car hits 99 degrees after 10 minutes, 109 degrees after 20 minutes, 114 degrees after half an hour and 123 degrees after 60 minutes, un-survivable for kids.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal pushed hard for added protections against hot car deaths in the Infrastructure bill.

”Cars overheat in a matter of minutes. We’re going into summer. Kids will be killed because cars become death traps. And we have to mobilize awareness, raise people’s consciousness, not just about the dangers to their children, but more broadly, the need for safety mechanisms,” Blumenthal said.

If you do not have a newer model car with an alert system.

Place a briefcase, purse, or cell phone next to the child’s car seat so that you’ll always check the back seat before leaving the car.

Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty.

Move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.

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