JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three children died after being in hot cars on Tuesday, including a baby girl in Jacksonville, according to Kids and Car Safety.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said police were called to the scene on Newberry Road near Broward Road on the city’s Northside. Police said the initial investigation shows the child’s father came to do some work, parked his car and left his daughter in the vehicle for approximately an hour before he remembered she was in the back seat, ran to get her, pulled the child out, began CPR and called 911. Officers said the child was taken to a hospital where she died.
The three deaths have safety advocates crying for attention to the issue.
“They’re not only preventable, they’re predictable,” said Kids and Car Safety Director Amber Rollins.
Advocates with the nonprofit are urging parents and caregivers to be extra careful.
“One thing that’s really important for people to remember is that it doesn’t have to be 80, 90 100 degrees outside for a child to die in a hot car. We’ve documented deaths on days where it was in the 60s outside,” Rollins said. “So the reason for that is a vehicle acts like a greenhouse.”
Across the country, Kids and Car Safety said, there were two other cases where a child died in a hot car on Tuesday. In Oneonta, Alabama, according to police, a 2-year-old boy was found dead inside a vehicle outside of a child care facility. And in Houston, Texas, a man was shot, his SUV was stolen with his 2-year-old son in the back seat, the vehicle was abandoned, and then the child was found dead inside the back seat, according to police.
According to Kids and Car Safety, at least 29 children have died in hot cars nationwide this year.
“The overwhelming majority of the time it’s not abuse, neglect or somebody who, you know, wasn’t paying attention to their child. You know, that these people that this happens to, they don’t realize their child is in the vehicle, they’ve lost awareness,” Rollins said.
There are certain safety measures that you can take to protect your children before you even start your car.
For example, if you need a key fob to get into work, leave it in the back seat of your car next to your child in the car seat. That way you can’t get into the office without going back and noticing the child. You can also do it with a laptop, house keys or a garage door opener.
And as an added line of defense, there’s new technology that attaches to the straps of the child’s car seat, connects to your smartphone and watch, and connects an alert.
“My emergency contacts are getting an alert within three minutes if I don’t unbuckle his chest clip,” explained Rollins.
And many carmakers like Kia and Hyundai are putting new smart detection systems on upgraded models. The National Transportation Safety Board will later require this in all new cars, but Rollins warns awareness is the first line of defense.
According to KidsAndCars.org, the majority of hot car fatalities involve children who were unknowingly left by an otherwise loving, responsible parent or caregiver (56%). Additionally, about a fourth (26%) of children who die in hot cars got into the car on their own and became trapped.