Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay is urging all Arizonans to be more vigilant about the safety of children in cars.
“Every Arizonan needs to ‘double check’," McKay said. “If you have a child in your vehicle, double check every time you get out – even if only for a minute – to make sure that child isn’t left behind. It truly is a matter of life or death.”
According to a 2014 San Jose State University (SJSU) study, Arizona ranks third nationally on a per capita basis for hyperthermia deaths of children in vehicles, with 28 confirmed between the years 1998 and 2014.
“One death is one too many, and we need to put a stop to this terrible and completely avoidable problem, “McKay added. “Within the last month, we have had at least four known incidents in metro Phoenix and Tucson in which a child was left in a vehicle. In most cases, the child was discovered in time and survived, but, tragically, one death has occurred already this year.
This is also a great reminder that if you see a child unattended in a car, call 9-1-1 immediately, because that child’s life is at stake.”
The SJSU study reports that nationally, 53 percent of vehicular heat-related deaths occurred because the child was “forgotten” by the caregiver. 29 percent resulted from a child playing in an unattended vehicle, and 17 percent were children intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult.
Even on a relatively mild day, a car’s interior temperature can rise approximately 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, rising a total of about 30 degrees in just 20 minutes. Research shows that cracking the car windows has almost no effect.
As part of this awareness effort, the Department of Child Safety is partnering with Harkins Theatres to help get out the “Double Check” message. Double Check announcements will be seen prior to feature showings at select Harkins Theatres from May 29 through June 25.
“I’m very grateful to Harkins Theatres for being a terrific community partner and recognizing the importance of Double Check. I thank them for their tremendous support,” said McKay.
Also, the Arizona Department of Transportation is supporting Double Check by including the “Double Check, Don’t Leave Kids in Cars” message on ADOT highway message boards statewide today.
“ADOT’s support is a huge benefit,” McKay added. “It’s important that drivers throughout the state see this important reminder and I thank ADOT for their assistance.”