AAA warns parents not to leave children in cars unattended

On the heels of a survey that found 14 percent of parents have left their children in an unattended car, AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a warning against doing this.

The study by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington found 14 percent of parents surveyed have intentionally left their children under kindergarten age alone in a vehicle, while 23 percent of parents with children age three and under have deliberately left their child alone in a vehicle.

"There are numerous disastrous results that can arise from leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, including death from heatstroke, accidental injury if the vehicle shifts into gear and the risk of child abduction," said Ragina Cooper-Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Young children are especially susceptible to injury because they cannot escape a vehicle on their own."

The risk of serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles, according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14, representing 61 percent of non-crash related fatalities in this age group.           

AAA Mid-Atlantic and NHTSA offer the following safety tips:

  • ·     Never leave a child alone in a car, even with the windows partially opened.
  • ·     Do not leave your children alone in a running vehicle with the air conditioner on even for a few minutes; your child may put the car into drive or even get caught in a closing power window.
  • ·      Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
  • ·       If your spouse or a guardian is taking your children to daycare or school, ask them to call you to make sure the drop-off went according to plan.
  • ·       Do things to remind you that a child is in the vehicle:
  • ·       Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle.
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