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Keeping children safe: a reminder to not leave them in hot cars

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Leaving children in a hot car can end in serious injuries and in the worst cases, it can cause death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, a record 53 children died because of heatstroke in cars. One of them was in Nebraska. In 2020, 24 children lost their lives because of the same thing. So far in 2021, two children have died.

Experts say it doesn’t take long for a mistake to turn into a tragedy.

“It’s really important for parents to understand how quickly their child can become overheated,” said Brian Baker, injury prevention program coordinator for the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department’s Safe Kids.

Baker said even the best of parents and caregivers can without knowing leave a child in the car. Many times, he says it’s because they’re distracted, “They just may be sleep deprived, or their routines have been changed. This is when we see this happen most often.”

Baker told 10/11 keeping physical reminders of the child in the car seat and then moving it into the front seat when the child is there can help, “Either putting something that they’re going to need whether it’s their wallet, their purse, their phone, something in the backseat when that child is back there, so that they won’t leave the car without it,” Baker said.

One of the main things Baker said parents and caregivers can do is to remember to always lock the car, especially when your child isn’t inside.

“It would not take long for a child to get into the vehicle and lose track of them for just a few minutes, and that could be a real serious situation.”

Baker told us leaving a child alone in a car, even on cloudy days with windows rolled down or the A/C still on is dangerous. “It is extremely important that parents never leave their children alone in the vehicle for any amount of time,” he added.

Baker said often times new parents make this quick, but deadly mistake, “They unfortunately would forget the child in the backseat when there’s no noise or the child is asleep.”

Experts say remember these three words so children never get left behind: Park. Look. Lock.

Even if you’re not a parent or caregiver yourself, experts say if you see a child alone in a car, make sure they’re okay and responsive. If not, immediately call 911.

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