Deaths prompt new warnings about leaving kids in hot cars

Data pix.

ITASCA, Ill. — Despite all of the obvious dangers, children are still being left in hot cars, with sometimes deadly consequences.

Officials are making another push to raise awareness of heatstroke and talk about ways to prevent it ahead of Wednesday's National Heatstroke Awareness Day.

Since 1998, more than 800 children have died after being left in a hot car. It’s the sort of tragedy that’s impacted people of all backgrounds, experts say, from doctors to lawyers to busy house wives.

But, it doesn’t have to be that hot outside for conditions to be dangerous.

In his rush to get to work in March 2010, Reggie McKinnon forgot his daughter Peyton was asleep in the car, until it was time to go home. It was only 73 degrees outside.

“To my horror I realized that Peyton was still in her car seat. And it was the last thing I remember. I heard someone screaming. It was me,” McKinnon said.

Last year, a record 52 children lost their lives in hot cars or trucks across the U.S. In another tragedy earlier this week, two toddlers died after they were left in a car in New York.

Also in the past week, two children were rushed to the Lake Forest Hospital emergency room after being left in the car with the windows up. In that case, the two children survived their ordeal.

“Every time I see just one, it hits home because it takes me right back to the day that I lost my daughter,” parent McKinnon said.

It doesn’t need to be in the 90s for your car to get dangerously hot, as illustrated by this display. Even though temperatures are in the mid-70s, it doesn’t take long for a test SUV’s cabin to reach 115 degrees.

Together with the National Safety Council, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9th District) says it’s time for action.

Schakowsky is sponsoring federal legislation to equip new cars with a simple alert system to remind drivers to check their backseat before exiting, and save young lives.

“You get a warning when you leave your keys in the car. You should get a warning if you leave a child in the car,” Schakowsky said.

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