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Advocates, First Responders Call On Tulsans To Be Vigilant In Keeping Kids From Dying In Hot Cars

Chris Polansky
Mark Madeja of AAA Oklahoma demonstrating the kind of stuffed animal parents can use as a front-seat reminder that they have children in the back, at a press conference at the Tulsa Fire Department Training Center on July 23rd.

Child safety advocates and first responders held a mock rescue of a child locked in a hot car in an attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of heat stroke inside vehicles.

"Last year, at least 52 children across the United States died from heatstroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle," said Beth Washington, coordinator of Safe Kids Tulsa Area, a group with a mission to prevent unintentional child injuries.

"Drivers need to understand that a vehicle is not a babysitter, but it can quicky become an oven," Washington said.

Safe Kids Tulsa Area says children under the age of 10 should never be left alone in a vehicle, even for just one minute.

Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker asked for the public's help in reducing the number of calls they get for children dead in vehicles.

"Tulsa firefighters have the gruesome task of being the rescue agency for children locked in these situations," Baker said. "Heat-related illness and death are prevalent, and, unfortunately, we are the first-line responders to rescue those children from vehicles."

Washington said that researchers have found about half of children who die of heat stroke in a hot vehicle are accidentally left there by their parents or caregivers. About a third accessed the vehicle on their own and then were unable to get themselves out. One in five children was intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that parents create reminders, like a teddy bear, in the front seat to remind you when your child is in the backseat, or leave your phone or purse with the child in the backseat, and to remember always to lock car doors.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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