Hot cars pose deadly risk to children

Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero speaks to media about the tragic death of her daughter who was left in a hot car.

Last May, Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero performed CPR on her baby girl who suffered from heat stroke after accidentally being left in her husband’s truck. Never in a million years would this mom have imagined that after dressing Sophia Rayne or “Ray Ray” in a flowered dress for tropical day at daycare and kissing her goodbye from the car seat she would be lying on the concrete over Ray Ray trying to breathe life into her. In fact, Kristie says it still feels like a dream – a perpetual nightmare.

Unfortunately, Kristie is joined by 32 other parents in the U.S. who lived this nightmare last year. Jodie Parsons is one of them. The nurse and mother of four children lost 4-year-old Lilly last July after she climbed inside an unlocked car parked outside their home. ”It’s important for people to understand this happens to everyday people who are good parents,” Jodie said.

Safe Kids Worldwide says that Texas leads the nation in hot-car deaths, and 52 percent of the deaths occurred when caregivers inadvertently forgot the child was in the vehicle. That’s why Kristie says to put safety nets in place when it comes to daycare dropoff.

Kristie’s tips:

  • Communicate planned absences to daycare providers.
  • Ask the daycare providers to call you if your child does not arrive on time and a planned absence has not been communicated.
  • Place your cell phone, briefcase, purse or other important item in the backseat before driving to your destination. This will get you in the routine of checking the backseat every day.

Thirty percent of the deaths in the U.S. occurred when a child climbed into an unlocked vehicle without anyone noticing, just like Jodie’s daughter. She offers tips to prevent this from happening to other children.

Jodie’s tips:

  • Before getting out of the car, check to be sure everyone is out and lock all doors
  • Once car is parked in garage or outside of house, double check that all doors and trunk are locked.
  • Remind friends and neighbors to always lock their car doors.

Dr. Halim Hennes, medical division director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Children’s, says that children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult. Since the temperature inside a car can increase more than 40 percent in less than an hour, it does not take long before death or permanent brain damage occurs.

Read this Q&A from Children’s experts and Safe Kids Worldwide for more prevention tips.

Watch the video at the top of the page to see Kristie and Jodie tell their stories to WFAA.

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