Action urged on children left in hot cars

July 27, 2011 at 5:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says action is needed to prevent the deaths of children left unattended in cars in the hot summer sun.

"It's so urgent that we find effective sets of countermeasures that we all can take right now," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, who hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington Tuesday.

"How do we prevent these deaths from happening now?"

He said he sought to raise "awareness of the deadly danger that could result from something as simple as a change in who drops a child off at day care," The Washington Post reported.

In almost half the cases of child death by hyperthermia since 1998, the child was forgotten and left in the car by a parent or designated caregiver, statistics show.

A common occurrence was when someone other than the usual driver, often the other parent, was a substitute driver who went directly to work instead of the day-care center, forgetting a child in the back seat.

On an 85-degree day, the heat inside a car can reach 104 degrees within 10 minutes and 119 degrees in half an hour, Jan Null, a meteorologist at San Francisco State University, told the roundtable discussion.

Several participants made several recommendations to avoid leaving a child behind, including placing a cellphone, coat or briefcase on the back seat beside the child that would need to be retrieved.

They also suggested leaving a reminder in the front passenger seat.

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