Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death among children in the United States. Another area of concern with children in and around cars is heat stroke, the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every eight days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.
Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 18-24. The week is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and supported by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and concludes with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 24. This week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers about the importance of correct installation and use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
Cesi Velez, Project Manager for Washington’s Child Passenger Safety Program, explains that in addition to educating on the proper use and benefit of car and booster seats, car seat technicians throughout Washington have been working to educate parents and caregivers to prevent heatstroke to children in vehicles.
“It is easy to think we aren’t at risk in Washington with our mild temperatures; however even when it’s only 60 degrees outside, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees,” Velez said. In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. A child dies when his or her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Safe Kids Worldwide suggests the A.C.T. method to reduce heatstroke deaths.
A. Avoid heatstroke by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And keep the car locked when you’re not in it.
C. Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, purse, or cell phone that is needed at your next destination.
T. Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
To ensure your child is safe while riding in the car, nationally certified child passenger safety technicians are gearing up to provide resources to educate caregivers on how to safely transport children in their cars. For more information on car seats and to find car seat inspection event locations, visit safercar.gov/parents.
Washington’s child restraint law (RCW 46.61.687) requires that child passengers use child restraint systems (car or booster seat) until they reach the age of eight years old, or a height of 4 feet 9 inches or taller. The law further states the child must be restrained with the seat belt properly adjusted and fastened, or continue using an appropriately-fitting child restraint system. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat position when it is practical to do so.