America Sets Grim Record for Kids Dying in Hot Cars

Filed under: In The News

kids dying in hot cars

America hit a new record number for children who died in hot cars last year. Credit: Getty Images

You would have to be dumber than a bag of hammers to leave a baby in car in the searing Florida sun.

Reggie McKinnon of Cape Coral, Fla., probably thought that, too.

He took Payton, his 17-month-old daughter, to a morning doctor's appointment last year and rushed back to work. At the end of the day, as he put his laptop in his SUV, he found her dead in her car seat.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports McKinnon shared his story, his voice shaking with emotion, with a crowd at Florida Atlantic University last week.

"How could someone forget their child?" he asked. "That only happens to people who are uneducated, who drink, drug addicts. Not me."

Complacency is deadly, he added.

"Don't be fooled into thinking that this couldn't happen to you," he said. "Unfortunately, I did."

America hit a new record number for children dying in hot cars last year, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

According to Safe Kids USA, 49 children, ages 2 months to 6 years, died from being left in hot cars last year. That brings the total death toll since 1998 to 495.

The Sun-Sentinel reports Florida contributes more than its share to those numbers, consistently ranking the first or second worst state for kids dying in cars.

The worst thing, of course, is that all these deaths could have been avoided.

"Deaths of children in hot cars are something we know how to prevent," Meri-K Appy, president of Safe Kids USA, tells the Sun-Sentinel.

Appy's organization has launched a national public awareness campaign called simply "Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car."

It asks parents to place Post-It notes or other reminders in their cars to remind them there is a baby on board. Parents also can have a friend or relative call and ask them as a reminder. Do whatever it takes, Appy tells the newspaper.

After all, as one of the campaign's slogans says, "75 degrees and sunny is no way to die."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.