Forty-nine children died in hot cars in 2010 nationwide. It's the deadliest year on record. In the past five years, at least ten children in North Carolina have died from hyperthermia after being trapped in hot vehicles.
Some parents leave kids in cars to save time while running errands, some actually forget a sleeping child, and others think just a few minutes can't hurt.
But what they don't realize is the temperature in a car can climb higher than a 100 degrees in minutes, and children are at high risk for dehydration.
"Vehicles go up about 19 degrees ever ten minutes," explained Kelly Ransdell with Safe Kids North Carolina.
"Sadly, these deaths are preventable," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. "Leaving a child unattended in a car, even for a minute, is more dangerous than many people realize."
To raise awareness, Safe Kids has launched a new campaign called "S’more dangerous than you think… Never leave your child alone in a car." To bring home the point, they're baking s'mores inside cars to show how quickly temperatures rise.
"The vehicle acts like an oven. It gets so hot, it can fix a s'more in just a matter of minutes," Ransdell explained. "At 104, their organs will shut down and at 107 they die."
Ransdell says leaving a car's windows cracked open has little effect.
Safe Kids also has the following tips:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked and store keys in a secure location. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Busy parents have a lot of their minds, so give yourself a reminder. Place your purse, briefcase or other important items in the backseat next to your child’s car seat so you have to look in the back before leaving the car. Also, set a reminder on your cell phone or other mobile device to remind you to drop off children when routines change.
- Make an arrangement with your child’s school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- If you see a child or pet left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.