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Check the Back Seat
last updated:
Wed, 8/08/2012 3:40 PM

In the past week, at least six Tennessee and Arkansas children died after being left in hot cars.

Experts at Le Bonheur Children's caution parents to be extra careful, especially during extreme heat. Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention for Safe Kids Mid-South located at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, offers this advice:

“A child's body temperature climbs three to five times faster than an adult's, especially in a hot car. In less than 30 minutes, the temperature inside a car can increase 35 degrees. An infant can die in as little as 15 minutes even on a mild 75-degree day.

Unfortunately, even the most conscientious parents can overlook a sleeping baby in a car.

The biggest mistake people make is to think 'It couldn't happen to me.' Memory experts point out that if you've ever forgotten a pot left burning on the stove, you've seen how easy it is to have a dangerous memory lapse."

To prevent vehicular heat stroke deaths, Safe Kids Mid-South recommends learning the following safety tips:

  • Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.
  • Put something in the back seat so you have to open the door when leaving the vehicle – a cell phone, employee badge, handbag, etc. 
  • Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn't arrived on time.
  • Focus on driving. Avoid cell phone calls and texting while driving.
  • Every time you park your vehicle, open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind.
  • Safe Kids also urges security personnel, parking lot attendants and the public to watch for children alone in a vehicle. Call 911 immediately if you see a child left alone in a car.

Susan Helms talked to WREG News Channel 3's Zaneta Lowe about such cases yesterday. Watch her interview below.

Check Your Car: Don't Leave Kids Behind
last updated:
Fri, 6/29/2012 4:18 PM

With highs reaching into the 100s this weekend, it’s important to ensure no child is left behind in your car. Temperatures this hot make heat stroke (or other heat-related illnesses) even more likely. Safe Kids Mid-South shares some important tips below.

Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know and why:

Take immediate action. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults’ body temperature, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. 

Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
Lock vehicles and trunks.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicles to assure that kids don’t enter and become trapped.

Create reminders.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.  To help prevent these tragedies parents can:

  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings. 
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.  Check out the Baby Reminder application, which automatically monitors and determines when you are driving and when not.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”  Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time, you will be called within a few minutes.
  • Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.  

Get involved.  Free educational materials are available at www.Safekids.org. Post them at your child care center, place of business or church. Let's help each other prevent further tragedies!

New Booster Seat Ratings Released
last updated:
Wed, 9/08/2010 4:04 PM

Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a third round of evaluations of the fit of 72 booster seats. The safest seats received the top ratings of "best bet" or "good bet," because they correctly position belts on average booster-age kids in most vehicles. The worst performers are ones the Institute doesn't recommend because they do a poor job of fitting belts. A good booster routes the lap belt across a child's upper thighs and positions the shoulder belt at mid-shoulder.

Good Belt Fit
Booster Seat Good Fit

Booster seats elevate children so that safety belts, which are designed for adults, will fit better. The lap belt should fit flat across a child's upper thighs, not the soft abdomen. Good booster seats have belt-routing features that hold lap belts down and forward. The shoulder belt should cross snugly over the middle of the shoulder to provide effective protection in a crash.

Poor Belt Fit 
Booster Seats Bad Fit

Not all boosters provide a good safety belt fit. Here the lap belt is too high on the abdomen, and the shoulder belt is too close to the neck. 

To find out how your Booster Seat rates, visit http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr090810.html

Improvements Have Been Made
Some manufacturers are taking the ratings to heart. Harmony Juvenile Products has 5 "best bet" boosters, more than any other manufacturers. One of them, the Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe backless, wasn't recommended last year. The company modified it to eliminate the earlier problem with lap belt fit. Dorel Juvenile Group has five seats that rate either "best bet" or "good bet," including the new Safety 1st Boost Air Protect. The firm sells seats under the names Cosco, Dorel, Eddie Bauer, Maxi-Cosi, Safeguard, and Safety 1st. Dorel also makes four boosters the Institute doesn't recommend, down from seven in the prior round of evaluations.

Confused - What Should You Do?
What should parents do if a booster they already have isn't one the Institute recommends using? Safe Kids Mid-south, led by Le Bonheur Children’s, suggests that parents take note of how the safety belts in their vehicle fit their child next time they're in the car. If the booster is doing a good job- if the lap belt is high on the thighs and not on the child’s tummy and if the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder, then use it. But, if the booster isn't doing a good job- if the lap belt is up on the child’s tummy or if the shoulder belt is falling off your child's shoulder — then find a replacement booster.

“Real children are not crash test dummies, so every seat can fit differently. Booster seats come in all shapes and sizes, so take your child with you to pick out the booster seat that will fit best. Don't panic if your booster seat shows up on a 'not recommended list'. The booster seat that doesn't fit the crash dummy may fit your child perfectly,” remarked Susan A. Helms R.N., M.A.L.S., director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South.

The Numbers Tell the Truth: Booster Seats Save Lives
Newest research from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shows that children who use a belt-positioning booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash than those who use only a seat belt.

The most important factor is how a booster seat fits your child. Here are some guidelines.

  • Does the shoulder belt rest on the shoulder bone? You may have to raise the booster seat's head rest to adjust the fit. 
  • Does the lap belt lay across the upper legs or thighs? Be sure that the lap belt is under both armrests. 
  • If both the lap and shoulder belt fit as directed, you have a “recommended' seat because it is a good fit for your child.
Watch for Children in Hot Cars
last updated:
Wed, 8/04/2010 11:46 AM

As the temperature continues to rise, so do the numbers of children dying in hot vehicles. Through the end of July there has been a record number of children - 28 - who have died due to vehicular heat stroke, making 2010 the worst year ever for children dying in hot cars.

The NBC TODAY Show aired a segment to help raise awareness about these dangers and let people know that technology does exists to prevent these tragedies. Spread the word and share our safety tips to help prevent any more children from dying in this manner. Log on to http://today.msnbc.msn.com/ to view the segment and read more about the technology and safety tips to prevent this from happening.

Safe Kids Mid-South says to keep peeking in car windows in parking lots. And to call 9-1-1 if you see a child in a car - you could save the life of an innocent child.


Hot Weather & Vehicles Can be Deadly
last updated:
Mon, 7/20/2009 10:30 AM

Hot Weather and Vehicles Can be a Deadly Combination for Kids

As temperatures begin to heat up, children are at a serious risk for heat stroke, also called hyperthermia, when left alone even for a few minutes in a closed vehicle. In 2008, at least 42 children across the United States died from heat stroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle. Safe Kids Mid-South wants to share these tips with you:

The Facts about Heat Stroke and Kids

  • Heat is much more dangerous to children than it is to adults.
  • When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, which could cause permanent injury or even death.
  • Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A core body temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is considered lethal.

What Happens in a Hot Vehicle?

  • Even with relatively cool temperatures outside—70 degrees—the inside of a car can reach a dangerous temperature in just minutes.
  • The temperature inside of a vehicle can rise 19 degrees above the outside temperature in just 10 minutes.
  • After an hour, the temperature inside and outside of a vehicle can differ by 45 degrees or more – even if the window is left open a crack.

How to Keep Kids Safer

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
  • Always lock a vehicle’s doors and trunk – especially at home. Keep keys and remote entry devices out of children’s reach.
  • Place something that you’ll need at your next stop – such as a purse, a lunch, gym bag or briefcase – on the floor of the backseat where the child is sitting. This simple act could help prevent you from accidentally forgetting a child.
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Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is a leading children's hospital in the Mid South, providing pediatric care to children from 95 counties in six states.
50 N. Dunlap Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103 • (901) 287-KIDS