Be the grownup and watch out for children in and around vehicles, even if they're not your own.
Coincidentally in the same week that 1-year old Jack Winchester died after being left in a minivan for several hours, the City of Santa Clarita held a press conference for the Child Care Resource Center’s “A Matter Of Minutes” campaign, which addresses the dangers faced by children in and around vehicles.
A Matter of Minutes addresses three areas of danger for children; being left in cars where temperature soars in a matter of minutes, back-overs and trunk entrapment, when children go through pop-down seats into the truck and cannot get out.
“The program is simple,” said Stacy Miller of the CCRC. “It’s aimed at educating parents and grandparents, caregivers and the community of the devastating impact of children unattended in cars.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar was asked to get behind the wheel of an SUV near the demonstration area and share “how many little green men” (brightly-colored safety warning devices in the shape of small children) he saw. Six were positioned behind the car, but from Kellar’s point of view, he could see none, illustrating the program’s point to get out and look around before backing out of the driveway.
Miller told the crowd that 50 children are backed over by vehicles every week, resulting in at least 2 fatalities.
In another demonstration, Miller placed two thermometers inside a sedan on the lot, noting that its temperature was 77 degrees at the start of the experiment. Twenty minutes later, the temperature was 125 degrees, with the heat spike bursting the bulb at the bottom of one thermometer.
Most telling was the demonstration by a young boy, who wriggled out of a car seat placed in the back seat of an SUV. He easily (and quickly) climbed over the console, positioning himself in the driver’s seat, putting the car in gear and starting the engine. By the time an adult in the car with him put his foot on the brake, the car mowed down three “little green men.”
Some tips for safety when children are around vehicles.
- Temperature – The temperature inside a closed car can rise from 30 to 40 degrees in just 30 minutes. For a child, that temperature spike can be extremely dangerous because a child’s system doesn’t work as effectively as an adult’s – and a child’s body heats up three to five times faster.
- Backover – Literally meaning getting backed over by a car, it is the leading cause of injury and death in non-traffic, non-crash accidents involving children under the age of 15. More than 50 children are backed over in by vehicles every week and, of the injured children, 70 percent are backed over by a family member – 45 percent of them in their own driveway.
- Abduction – A car is stolen every 26 seconds in the United States according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. California leads the nation in auto theft with more than 240,000 cars stolen every year.
- Never leave your child unattended in a motor vehicle, even with the windows down.
- Teach children not to play in, or around cars
- Always lock car doors and trunks, even at home of in the garage, and keep keys out of reach of children.
- Watch children closely around cars, particularly when loading or unloading items.
- Always make sure all child passengers have left the car when you reach your destination. Don’t overlook sleeping infants.
- If you see a child locked inside a car, CALL 911
For more information on child safety, contact the Child Care Resource Center at (866) 674-KIDS or visit www.ccrcla.org.