(NEW YORK) — As the temperature climbs this Memorial Day weekend, so does the danger lurking inside our own cars.
Hot car deaths reached a record level last year with at least 52 children killed, from California to Tennessee to Mississippi, according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.
Just this Wednesday, a baby girl died when she was left for hours in a hot van outside her Florida day care, according to authorities. A co-owner of the day care was arrested on child neglect charges.
“We are all just beyond devastated,” KidsAndCars.org director Amber Rollins told ABC News after Wednesday’s death.
Children’s bodies heat up much faster than adults’ do, according to the National Safety Council.
Children’s internal organs begin to shut down once their core body temperature reaches 104 degrees — and it takes very little time for a car to get too hot for children, according to a report published by the council last year.
On an 86-degree day, for example, it would take only about 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach a dangerous 105 degrees, researchers said.
Rollins offers these tips for drivers:
- Always keep cars locked even if you don’t have children.
- Always keep keys out of children’s reach.
- Place an item you can’t start the day without in the backseat.
- If a child goes missing, check the inside and trunk of all cars in the area immediately.
- Teach children to honk the horn if they get stuck.
“If you see a child or animal alone in a car, do something,” Rollins said. “If they are in distress, you need to get them out immediately and begin to cool them.”
Her nonprofit, KidsAndCars.org, is advocating for Congress to require rear occupant alarm technology in cars.
“We have to do more,” Rollins said. “This cannot continue to happen week after week, year after year when the solution is right at our fingertips.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.