Sixteen children have died nationwide this summer after being left in hot cars, including a 15-month old in Ridgefield, and a Hartford children's hospital launched a campaign Monday to stop it from happening again.
Connecticut Children's Medical Center's Injury Prevention Center received a $100,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation to raise awareness about hot car deaths, according to a news relase. The hospital announced its new campaign on the topic late Monday morning.
“Children are especially vulnerable to heatstroke and parents should make it a habit to check their back seats after every ride. This campaign is designed to reach parents in every corner of the State,” said Dr. Brendan Campbell, Director of Pediatric Trauma at Connecticut Children’s, at a press conference about the new campaign.
There have been several reported incidents of children left in hot cars in Connecticut so far this summer, including a fatal incident in Ridgefield, and an average of 38 children have died for that reason annually in the United States since 1998, according to CCMC.
“Losing a child at any age is one of life’s great tragedies. It’s especially hard when the death of a child was preventable. We are pleased to have a role in this campaign,” Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said.
The hospital's new Look Before You Lock campaign serves to remind parents that it doesn't take long for the temperature to rise in a car and for children to suffer heat strokes, the "leading cause of non-crash related deaths for children 14 years old and younger, according to the news release. A child's body temperature can "increase thre to five times faster than an adult," the news release stated.
"As a pediatric ED doctor and parent I am reminded every day how a small distraction in our busy lives can have grave consequences to a child," Marc Auerbach, MD, said. "Children make significantly more heat than adults because higher metabolic rates and they have decreased ability to sweat off heat. In the hot car they also absorb the heat five times faster because they have more surface area compared to their total mass."
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D) and United States Senators Richard Blumenthal (D) and Christopher Murphy (D) attended the event, along with members of the DOT, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Connect.
“I’m thrilled that only a few weeks after my phone call with NHTSA Director Friedman to request more funding for the ‘Where’s the Baby?’ campaign in Connecticut, new money is being spent to boost this initiative,” Sen. Murphy said. “One of the best ways to prevent these tragic deaths is to educate and remind parents of the dangers of heatstroke, and that’s exactly what this funding will do.”
The campaign will utilize billboards, radio and other media to advertise the cause. The funding comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The message today is simple—look before you lock,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “This public service campaign is a vital first step in getting this important, life-saving information out to parents and caregivers and I applaud the state, Connecticut Children’s, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Safe Kids Connecticut for their leadership in this effort.”
The campaign will last run in August and September.
More information on awareness about the risk of leaving kids in the car is available on www.wheresbaby.org.