MISSOULA – The summer months are bringing some heat, and one local organization is reminding parents during these hot days to not leave their children unattended in their cars.
July is the deadliest month for children suffering heat stroke after being left unattended in a hot car.
Safe Kids Missoula says there have only been two deaths in Montana since 1998 involving children being left in overheated cars. The organization is working to prevent one from happening again.
“I think when people think about a child being left alone in a car they think ‘oh that will never happen to me,'” said Safe Kids Missoula co-coordinator Kira Huck. “But this happens all the time to really good parents. It typically happens when there is a change in the routine. Maybe mom takes the child to daycare and today dad’s doing it and, you know, the child might fall asleep. They’re really quite, they’re not used to them being in the car, so it’s usually just something minor like a change in routine that can lead to heat stroke.”
It doesn’t have to be very hot outside for a car to be hot enough to give a child heat stroke, and usually the first heat stroke deaths of the year happen well before July.
“It doesn’t need to be hot at all,” Huck said. “The last several years the first heat stroke deaths of the year have taken place in January and February 2016. The very first heat stroke death of the year was in January and it was only 52 degrees outside.”
Safe Kids Missoula suggests remembering the acronym ACT to prevent one of these tragic events from ever happening to you.
“We focus on an acronym with parents. ‘A’ stands for avoid heat stroke by never leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. ‘C’ stands for create your reminders and that means putting something like your cellphone or your briefcase or purse in the backseat with your child that you’ll need at your final destination so that you remember to go and check the back seat when you exit your vehicle. And ‘T’ stands for take action and that’s really for everyone and just reminding them to please call 9-1-1 if you ever see a child left alone in a vehicle.”
Safe Kids Missoula also talked about a new device called a cell slip which is aimed at reminding you your children are in the back seat. Your put your cell phone in the device and put it next to your child. When you arrive at your destination and reach for your phone you also see your child in the car seat next to it.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News