Oklahoma City -- The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has teamed up with Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, the Child Death Review Board and the Department of Public Safety to remind Oklahomans about the dangers facing children during the summer months in hopes of preventing needless child deaths.
"Children die each year from being left or becoming trapped in hot cars, and by drowning and not being supervised," said Sheree Powell, Communications Coordinator for OKDHS. "These are deaths that could have been prevented and we want to make all Oklahomans aware of what they can do to stop these tragedies before they happen."
In the first half of 2012, 10 children have died in the U.S. from being left in hot cars. Since 2005, 12 Oklahoma children have died from hyperthermia - in a hot car. Half of those children were still strapped in car seats left in the car by a distracted caregiver. The other half were children who became trapped in the automobile during unsupervised playtime. There were two separate occurrences in which siblings died when they became trapped in a hot car.
So far, no Oklahoma children have died this year from being left in a hot car but there have been some close calls.
"We all know how quickly our cars heat up," said Powell. "A child's body temperature rises at a rate at least three times faster than an adult's. Hyperthermia can occur on days with relatively mild (70 degrees F) temperatures and vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly."
Safety tips to keep children safe:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle - not for any length of time or to run a quick errand - not even with the windows cracked and a windshield shade in place.
- Check to make sure all children exit the vehicle when you reach your destination.
- Lock the doors when your vehicle is parked. Teach children that cars are not places to play.
- Busy parents have a lot on their minds, so give yourself a reminder on your cell phone or mobile device. When transporting a child, place everything that belongs to the child in the front seat and place everything that belongs to you in the back on the floor.
- Make an agreement with your child's school or daycare that you will be notified if your child is not dropped off at the normal time.
- Check vehicles and trunks first if a child goes missing.
- If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- "Forget-me-not" legislation makes it a misdemeanor to leave a child 6 years old and younger in a motor vehicle.
"In the summer, many Oklahoma children drown each year. When we hear of a drowning, we tend to think of swimming pools, hot tubs or lakes," said Powell. "Unfortunately, we have seen too many children drown in common household objects such as mop buckets, ice chests, aquariums, sinks and toilets. Parents need to be aware that a couple inches of water and a child left alone are all it takes to create a tragedy.
"A responsible adult watching a child at all times is the best prevention to drowning and injuries."
Visit http://www.thinkpreventlive.org/ (link opens in new window) to learn more about how you can help prevent avoidable child deaths and keep our children safe.
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Lt. Governor Todd Lamb (right) discusses the OKDHS Think.Prevent.Live campaign on the steps of the state Capitol