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Norman police ask parents to help prevent heatstroke deaths

With summer closing in, the Norman Police Department is reminding parents never to leave their children in a hot car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, a car can heat up as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and cracking a window does little to keep the car cool. Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than adults, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.

According to a recent nationwide study released by San Francisco State University, there have been at least four heat stroke deaths of children in vehicles this year.  The study reports there were at least forty-four deaths of children in vehicles during 2013, and at least 606 documented fatalities since 1998.   These fatalities occurred when children were either left in or not supervised around a vehicle.   Of the 606 child vehicular heatstroke deaths, 52 percent of the deaths were caused when the caregiver “forgot” the child.  The study also showed that 29 percent of the deaths occurred while children were playing inside an unattended vehicle.

The Norman Police Department wishes to pass on the following safety precautions from the SFSU survey.

• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute.

• If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911.

• Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading.  Don’t overlook sleeping babies.

• Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.

• If a child is missing, always check the pool first, and then the car, including the trunk.

• Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.

• Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the
driver, or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.

• Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car.

• Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school by a designated time.

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Bryan Painter

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Silas Allen

Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri. Read more ›