NewsPinellas County


Hot car deaths among children on the rise

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 16:33:29-04

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — They are tragedies that are completely preventable, and often times just horrible accidents.

“Most of the time it’s not that the parent is a bad parent or left the child purposely in the backseat. It’s a change of circumstances," said Elizabeth Graham, Public Educator with Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.

Those can happen with a different parent handling drop off or the child having a doctor appointment.

Variances from the average routine can throw the parent off and lead to forgetting a child is in the backseat.

“Also when the families are sleep deprived they are more susceptible to distractions or zoning out and that’s what can lead to the tragedies," said Petra Vybiralova, Safe Kids Supervisor with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

There are methods people use to avoid forgetting, like leaving a cell phone or purse in the backseat.

But now some new cars come with alert systems.

“So when you put your child in the backseat and you get in the car to drive and you shut the car off, a message comes up on the dash that says 'check the backseat, there’s somebody sitting in the rear,'" said Graham.

There are also apps that can help. For example, you can set an alert on Waze.

When you stop your car and get out, it will remind you about the child.

We also found several alert systems you buy on-line that attach to your seat belt or to the child’s car seat.

Last year 51 children died nationwide after being left in hot cars. That’s a record high.

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