Children in hot cars an ongoing concern
Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023
The National Weather Service has issued the first multi-day heat advisory for Panola and surrounding counties this week. Temperatures are expected to reach near 100 with the heat index measuring 110 to 115 until Friday.
Safety experts are urging parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant in order to prevent the tragic, yet avoidable incidents of children being left in hot cars.
Pet owners are also reminded that dogs and cats can quickly become overheated and suffer major health complications when left in hot vehicles, even for a short time.
According to data from KidsAndCars.org, an organization that tracks such incidents, an average of 38 children die in hot cars in the U.S. each year. In most cases, these fatalities are the result of a parent or caregiver forgetting a child is in the car.
In 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that Mississippi ranked number one in child heatstroke car deaths per capita. Between 1990 and 2022, a total of 21 children in Mississippi lost their lives in hot cars.
In the United States, the year 2018 marked the deadliest year on record for children in hot cars, with a total of 54 fatalities.
“It’s a devastating mistake that any parent can make,” says Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org. “It’s not about parents being neglectful or careless, it’s about being human. Our brains are not infallible.”
The issue has gained national attention, with lawmakers proposing “The Hot Cars Act” in Congress. Introduced first in 2019, the bill has been reintroduced in both the 117th and 118th Congresses.
The legislation would require all new passenger vehicles to be equipped with a child safety alert system that can detect the presence of a child in a vehicle and alert the driver when the car is turned off.
While the Hot Cars Act is still pending in Congress, parents and caregivers can take immediate steps to prevent hot car incidents. Experts recommend creating reminders by putting something necessary like a purse, briefcase, or cellphone in the back seat with the child.
They also suggest asking childcare providers to call if the child is not dropped off at their usual time. Even a simple routine like “look before you lock” can make a difference.