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5/19/11news article

local partnership to combat child deaths from heat stroke

Safe Kids Greater Dayton, The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, the General Motors Foundation and its partners are launching an education and awareness program to help reduce the number of child deaths in cars and trucks caused by heat stroke.  Regrettably, two children have already died in 2011 as a result of being unintentionally left in the car and dying of heat stroke.  This very unfortunate event is avoidable and there are ways to prevent this from happening.  

The “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” program will unite physicians, day care centers and other child serving organizations to share with parents and caregivers prevention tips to address the dangers to children in vehicles.  Forty-nine children died from heat stroke while unattended in cars in 2010 – the worst year on record.

“Child deaths from heat stroke have occurred as early as February and with an outside temperature as low as 57 degrees F,” said Jessica Saunders, Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator and injury prevention coordinator at Dayton Children’s.  We are mobilizing now with our partners including day care centers, physicians and our Safe Kids network to help get information out to parents and caregivers.”

“This is a significant health concern as Safe Kids USA conservatively estimates that there are 1,000 – 2,000 near-misses every month,” said Saunders.  “Safe Kids USA has confirmed 250,000 cases of children trapped in vehicles.  Thankfully, most have not resulted in a death.  However, these estimates do not include calls to fire or police departments.”

Safe Kids Greater Dayton will be kicking off our Never Leave Your Child Alone campaign with a car seat check on Tuesday, May 24 from 10am to 2pm at The Greene. Parents attending the event will get additional information on how to keep their child safe from heat stroke.

Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know and why:

  • Take Immediate Action.  The body temperature of children rises 3 - 5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. 
  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.
  • Lock Cars and Trucks.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Create Reminders.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.  To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings. 
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care. 
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”  Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes.
  • Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.  
  • Get Involved.  Advocate for stronger state laws to protect children from being left unattended in a motor vehicle.   

For more information on preventing child heat stroke deaths, please visit Be sure to NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE in a car.

About Safe Kids Greater Dayton

Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Greater Dayton was founded in 1994 and is led by The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton.

About the General Motors Foundation and Safe Kids Buckle Up

Beginning in 1997, General Motors and the GM Foundation have served as Safe Kids Buckle Up's exclusive funding source and helped build the program into a multifaceted national initiative, bringing motor vehicle safety messages to children and families through community and dealer partnerships.  To date, more than 21million people have been exposed to Safe Kids Buckle Up events and community outreach efforts. Certified child passenger safety technicians working through Safe Kids coalitions have examined 1.28 million child safety seats at 65,399 events and the program has donated 457,134 seats to families in need.

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

For more information, contact: 
Marketing Communications Department 
Phone: 937-641-3666

Jessica Saunders

director, Community Engagement
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