Oklahoma ranks as one of the top states for hot car deaths, experts urge caution

KTUL - June 21, 2024 5:50 am

The start of summer is this week but we are already getting hot temperatures.

Some groups are reminding drivers to not leave their kids or pets in the car.

While most hot car deaths happen under the circumstance that children are unknowingly left in a vehicle, that isn’t always the case.

EMSA  warns parents and pet owners that no amount of time is safe for their kids and pets to be left in a car.

According to the non-profit Kids and Car Safety, Oklahoma is one of the worst states in the country for hot car deaths, ranking number 11 in the nation.

“We’ve documented at least 30 children that have died from hot cars in the state of Oklahoma,” said Amber Rollins, the Director of Kids and Car Safety.

Rollins says most hot car deaths happen when the parent or caregiver loses awareness that the child is in the back seat with them.

“About 55% of hot car deaths happen when a child is unknowingly left,” said Rollins. “A lot of times, it’s a sleeping baby.”

NewsChannel 8 reached out to EMSA to learn what people can do to make sure they don’t make such a mistake.

“Any time you get out of your car, even if you know it’s not something you would normally do, just make a habit of turning around looking behind you, making sure that you’re getting everybody out of the car with you,” said Gage Holleman, the QAQI officer for Tulsa EMSA

To help you develop that habit of opening that back door and looking before you lock every time, Rollins says to put an item that you cannot start your day without in the back seat.

“If you work on a laptop, that’d be a great thing to put back there,” said Rollins.

Or the key card to get into your work building.

“Another thing parents can do, another layer of protection, grab a reminder item, put that in the back seat,” said Rollins.

Rollins says that whenever you buckle your child into the car seat, move that reminder item to the front seat as a visual cue.

Gage Holleman with EMSA says that no amount of time in a car is safe for kids or pets to be left there especially when air conditioning is not on.

“Running into a liquor store and you can’t take your kid with you in. So people think that, you know, I’ll be right back. It’s not a big deal,” said Holleman.

He says to instead make plans.

“Find somebody that can watch them while you go run those errands,” said Holleman.

Rollins says the reason for their ranking is there’s an increased number of fatalities in the southern states where it’s warmer for longer.

You can find a link to the study from Kids and Car Safety here.



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