Warning devices might not save children from heat stroke

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – When the temperatures climb, the dangers of heat stroke rise along with the mercury. Parents of small children should be especially careful to not leave their kids inside cars in the hot summer months.

A new report says devices designed to warn parents who forget their kids in the back seat have limitations.

The study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says some of the devices are too complicated and may give parents a false sense of security.

Among the limitations are inconsistencies in arming sensitivity, possible interference with other electronic devices and susceptibility to misuse.

NHSTA administrator David Strickland says parents cannot rely on these devises alone.

“None of them are a full or complete solution to making sure that a parent never leaves a baby behind in a hot car,” he says.

Installing them can be complicated and no car manufacturer currently offers an option to permanently add them.

The technology involved also does not take into account the 20 to 40 percent of children who die after gaining access to a vehicle without adult supervision.

Strickland says parents should take other precautions like having their child care provider call any time the child does not arrive on time.

He also says looking in the back seat of the car should be routine when you have kids. He suggests you put a purse or briefcase in the back seat as another way of remembering to look behind you.

Heat stroke is the major cause of vehicle-related deaths for children under 14, according to the study.

In 2011, 33 children died from heatstroke. The 2010 number was 49.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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