First Responders And Safety Advocates Raise Awareness of Child Deaths By Heatstroke In Cars

Jul 22, 2014

Firefighters demonstrate how they respond to calls of children left in hot cars.
Credit Carla Javier / WLRN

According to research at San Francisco State University, Florida is second in the nation in child deaths from heatstrokes in hot cars.

Reggie McKinnon lives in Cape Coral. He lost his daughter Payton to heatstroke in March 2010 after he left her in his car.

"It's still a question that remains unanswered: how did I forget my child?" he told the group of first responders, advocates, and media gathered at the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County Tuesday. "And unfortunately, as you've already heard, it is a question that is asked too often."

David Friedman, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says awareness of the issue is important nationwide.

"And especially in states like Florida where it's hot, where it's humid, where children are at the greatest risk of dying of heatstroke," he explains.

At the event, responders and safety advocates shared tips for parents and bystanders.

A sign at the awareness events reminds caretakers and bystanders to 'ACT'
Credit Carla Javier / WLRN

They suggest placing an object -- like a cell phone, laptop, even a left shoe -- in the seat with the child to ensure adults do not lock the car without first checking the back seat.

If bystanders happen across a child locked in a car, they are encouraged to call 911.