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K-State Today

June 30, 2014

National Safety Month bonus week: summer safety

Submitted by Lisa Linck

Can't take the heat? Neither can your children.

National Safety Council urges Americans to look before they lock to prevent vehicle-induced heatstroke.

Just because a car isn't moving doesn't mean it's not dangerous. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 43 children died from heatstroke inside vehicles in 2013 — one of the deadliest years to date. These tragedies can happen to anyone, but are preventable with the proper education and action.

It saddens me to think that this can happen, but the fact of the matter is, is does happen. With the hustle and bustle of daily life and the multitasking, working parents this can be a real concern. I have four kids ranging from 3 to 9 years old, so I have been dropping off anywhere from one to three little ones at one or more child care facilities every weekday going on 10 years now. For me, it's habit you could say, or part of my daily routine. Fortunately for me, all the child care facilities I have used have never been more than a five-minute drive, even between the multiple stops for each child, so the little ones never had a chance to fall asleep nor did it give me the time to start thinking about all that needed done and get sidetracked. Of course, the peace and quiet after dropping them off was always something to look forward to.

This National Safety Month, the National Safety Council is calling on all parents and caregivers to take an extra look before stepping out of their vehicles to ensure safety of their children and pets. The difference can be life or death. Children overheat three to five times faster than adults. Even in 70-degree weather, a vehicle can reach a life-threatening temperature in just minutes.

"Nobody ever thinks something like this could happen to them, until it does," said Deborah Hersman, National Safety Council president and CEO. "Unfortunately, every summer, dozens of children die as a result of high temperatures inside of cars. These unintended mistakes can devastate families, so make sure you always look before you lock your vehicle."

Follow these simple steps to ensure a safe trip, every time:
• Never leave your child unattended in a car
• Use reminders, such as leaving something you need in the back seat — like a purse, briefcase or phone.
• Always lock the doors of your car after you have exited – children may get into cars on their own and become trapped inside
• If you spot a child alone in a car, don't hesitate – call 911
• If you're a child care provider, and a child hasn't been dropped off, call the parents to confirm if it's a planned absence

National Safety Month encourages safe behaviors to prevent the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths. The council's National Safety Month campaign, Safety: it takes all of us, includes free downloadable materials on summer safety. Visit nsc.org/nsm to get involved.

Additional resources:
Summer safety poster
Summer safety hazard checklist
5-minute safety talk: Summer safety
Article: Golden standard
Summer safety fact sheet
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