New bill could help prevent children from dying in hot cars - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

New bill could help prevent children from dying in hot cars

On average, 37 children die every year in the U.S. in hot cars. (Source: WOIO) On average, 37 children die every year in the U.S. in hot cars. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

It's June 15, and there have already been cases of children left in dangerously hot cars.

On average, 37 children die every year in the US in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars.org. One Ohio Congressman wants to make sure that doesn't continue to happen.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) recently introduced a bill called the "Hot Cars Act of 2017" with co-sponsors Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D- Ill.). It would require new cars come equipped with an alert system that could cut down on tragic deaths of children forgotten in the back seat. The system would alert the driver if someone is still in the car after they turn it off.

The stories of babies and toddlers trapped in the backseats of scorching vehicles are heartbreaking. In nearly two decades, 700 children have died in hot cars.

Cleveland 19 did an experiment to see just how quickly it gets inside of a car on a hot day. Just before 6 p.m., we took a thermometer outside in the sun, where it registered at 86 degrees. Then we put the thermometer in a car that had been parked in the sun for about three hours.

In just 10 minutes, the thermometer jumped to 103 degrees -- up 17 degrees. This shows it doesn't take long for temperatures to soar inside of a car.

Amber Andreasen is with KidsAndCars.org, an organization that supports the bill.

“We've been educating about this issue for years and years and people just don't truly believe that this can happen to them. And so parents aren't taking proper precautions to keep their children safe,” she said.

Andreasen says parents who forget their children in hot cars aren't bad people. She says their brains are on autopilot.

“Number one, you’ve got a new parent whose baby is probably not sleeping through the night. They’re not getting enough sleep, and fatigue plays a major role on how our brains and memory systems work,” she said. “So you've got lack of sleep, and in almost every single case there's some type of change in the daily normal routine.”

The technology alert system already exists in some new models of GM cars. But until then, how can parents make sure they don't make a deadly mistake?

“Take your diaper bag, briefcase or wallet and put it in your backseat. Some people have even suggested taking off your left shoe and putting that in the backseat when you put the baby back there. So the idea is you're not going to get very far without noticing you're only wearing one shoe,” Andreasen said.

You can also keep a stuffed animal in your car. If your child is in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front seat next to you so you won’t forget. You can also call also tell your daycare to call you immediately if your child is not there on time.

The bill is waiting for action from the House of Representatives.

Here’s a statement from Congressman Tim Ryan:

“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. That is why I am proud to have Representatives King and Schakowsky join me in introducing this important legislation. Our cars can already alert drivers when they leave their keys in the car, their lights on, or their trunk open – none of which are life threatening. It is not unusual for the government to mandate safety features to protect lives. Cars are mandated to have seat belts, interior trunk-releases, and rear backup cameras. Our legislation would move us one step closer to getting this inexpensive technology in every car on the road to help save the lives of children nationwide."

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