Help stop hot car deaths - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Help stop hot car deaths

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A Georgia man is facing murder charges for leaving his young son in a hot car.

While he is accused of leaving his child in the car intentionally, many more parents leave a child in the car by accident. Three other American children died in hot cars in just the past three weeks. About 38 children die in hot cars each year. Hundreds more are near death situations.

But small changes can saves lives.

"Many families are busy. They're tired, they have a small child. You know, children are quiet often," Melissa Hallenbeck said. Hallenbeck is the outreach coordinater for Promedica. She also represents Safe Kids of Greater Toledo.

Most cases of children dying from heatstroke in a vehicle are just tragic accidents. Just over half of the cases involve forgetting a child is in the backseat.

"A lot of time someone's schedule changes - maybe Mom always takes the child to day care suddenly Dad does one day or grandparents. Something is different and you're in that automatic mode."

Hallenbeck said it's important to make new habits. Throw your purse or briefcase and cell phone in the back seat every time you leave. That way, when you do have a child in the backseat, when you go to grab your stuff, you'll be reminded the child is there."

Another accident occurs when children play in a car and accidentally get locked inside.

"Sometimes you might be gardening and you now your child is playing around the car and a couple minutes later their locked in there and the windows are rolled up and in ten minutes the heat can raise 19 degrees inside the car," Hallenbeck said.

She said to keep car doors locked and keys out of reach, so a child can't get inside. Some accidents happen when children are left inside a vehicle briefly-perhaps to run into a store.

But even on a 60 degree day, a car can reach 110 degrees or more.

"With children, they don't regulate their temperatures the same way as adults," Hallenbeck said. "So it can be three to five times faster the way their body heats up making it pretty quick that they can heat up and have that hyperthermia," she said.

16 children have already died from heat stroke in a car this year. Michigan has laws against leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, but Ohio does not.

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