National Heatstroke Prevention Day – May 1
May 1, 2023 — With Oklahoma second in the nation in per capita deaths of children in hot cars, AAA Oklahoma, Safe Kids Tulsa Area, Tulsa Fire Department, Tulsa Police Department and other child safety organizations are urging parents and others caring for young children to be intentional in efforts to avoid such tragedies. Monday, May 1, is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.
“These tragedies can happen to responsible and well-meaning parents,” said Rylie Mansuetti, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson. “As temperatures rise, parents and guardians must take specific precautions to safeguard their children from heatstroke inside vehicles. Heatstroke fatalities can be caused by a shift in routine, but adopting simple, consistent measures can prevent the devastating loss of a child.”
“Children have died of heat stroke on a 52-degree day,” according to Beth Washington, Safe Kids Tulsa Area coordinator. “Even on a mild spring day, the temperature inside a car can rise to 19 degrees in just ten minutes. And it continues to rise, creating a dangerous environment for unattended children.“
“Park. Look. Lock.” is a phrase Washington recommends for parents to say every time they turn off their cars. By following these steps before locking the car and looking in the back seat, you can prevent deadly situations, which could result from temporary lapses in judgment or even misunderstandings about how to transport your child.
Safe Kids also recommends internalizing the acronym A-C-T to avoid child entrapment in a hot car:
- A – Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. In addition, make sure to keep your car locked when you are not inside so kids do not get in on their own.
- C – Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it is empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Alternatively, place and secure your phone, purse or backpack in the backseat when traveling with your child.
- T – Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 9-1-1. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations.
Entrapment in hot vehicles has led to 29 deaths of children, ages 14 or younger in Oklahoma in the past 22 years.
“100 percent of these tragedies are preventable,” says Mansuetti. “National Heatstroke Prevention Day is a rallying point for all Oklahomans who care for children to join together to reverse these sad trends in our state. It happens one conversation at a time among all those involved in the care of children.”