ST. GEORGE — The sizzling heat of summer is over, yet the death toll of children left in hot cars continues to rise despite public awareness being at an all-time high.
In fact, this is officially the deadliest October in history, according to a statement released by Kids and Cars.
On average, one child dies during the month of October, but this year at least five children have died so far this month, and there are still 11 days to go.
Parents and caregivers cannot let their guard down, the agency says, particularly with outside temperatures hovering above 80 degrees in St. George.
On an 80-degree day, it would take only take 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
At least 52 children have died in hot cars so far this year, the organization said, making it the 2nd worst year in history.
In 2018, 54 children died in hot cars nationally, marking it as the deadliest year in history for hot car-related deaths. The average age of the children was 21 months.
The National Safety Council says there are three primary circumstances resulting in deaths of children in hot cars, which include a caregiver forgetting a child in a vehicle, a child gaining access to a vehicle or someone knowingly leaving a child in a vehicle.
In Utah, a 2-month-0ld baby boy died in a hot car in Santaquin, according to Kids and Cars records.
While public awareness about hot car deaths is at an all-time high, so is the number of children dying in hot cars. It continues to happen because no one believes it will happen to them, the agency says.
“With each passing day, the threat of another avoidable death of a child is very real. Inexpensive technology that can detect a child is available for automakers to install today,” said Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org.
One hot car death reported in October took place in Arizona on Oct. 1, in which a 4-month-old infant died after being left in a car for several hours while the father was at work, with outside temperatures hovering above 90 degrees.
Arizona has been hit hard this year with four hot car deaths reported throughout the state.
“We need technological solutions to protect children,” the Kids and Cars statement said.
A federal bill, The HOT CARS Act, HR 3593, would require vehicles to be equipped with safety technology to detect and alert the driver to the presence of a child to help prevent hot car fatalities.
Automakers have been exploring ways to address this safety issue and this commitment underscores how such innovations and increased awareness can help children right now,” Alliance Interim President and CEO David Schwietert said in a statement.
Children should never be left alone in a car, even if parents think they’ll be just a few minutes, the Safety Council said. On a 70-degree day, it takes only 15 minutes for the car to reach 96 degrees. On an 80-degree, it takes only 10 minutes to reach 100 degrees.
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