Never leave kids in a hot car, officials say in press conference planned even before Louisville toddler died

Following a 2-year-old Louisville boy’s death from hyperthermia after he was left alone in a hot car Saturday, health officials warned of the dangers of vehicle-related heat stroke at a news conference in Frankfort yesterday.
“The loss of a child due to hyperthermia is a horrific tragedy that, sadly, we are seeing every year in this state,” said Dr. Susan Pollack, coordinator for Kentucky’s Safe Kids Coalition.
According to the group, one of 600 such coalitions and chapters around the country, two other child vehicular deaths — one in Texas, another in Louisiana — have already happened this year. Last year was the worst on record with 49 deaths nationwide. There have been 494 deaths in the country from 1998 to 2010, 13 of which happened in Kentucky.
About half the deaths occur when a parent forgets their child is in the car and leaves. “Something in a caregiver’s daily routine changes, and the caregiver forgets to drop off the child at day care or with another caregiver and leaves the child in the car,” Beth Musgrave of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. As such, Safe Kids recommends setting a cell phone alarm to remind parents or placing a purse or cell phone near the child to act as a similar memory prompt.
In some cases, parents know they’ve left their child in the car, but do not realize how hot the car can get. “If you crack the windows, it doesn’t make it cooler,” Pollack said. One study found the temperature in a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes during warm weather. Moreover, a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults.

About 30 percent of related deaths happen when a child is playing in a car and becomes trapped inside. Safe Kids recommends always locking a vehicle to prevent kids from getting in.

The news conference was planned before the death of 2-year-old Kenton Brown, Musgrave reports. Anyone who intentionally leaves a child in a hot car can face manslaughter charges if the child is younger than 8, Kentucky State Police Lt. David Jude said. (Read more)
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