Even though it might not always feel like the weather has warmed up, the temperatures are warm enough to harm or kill children accidentally left behind in cars.
According to KidsAndCars.org, the number of children nationwide who died from heatstroke deaths in vehicles doubled compared to the average. Seven children died in hot cards over a 16-day period in four states. One of those deaths occurred here in North Carolina.
KidsAndCars.org reports the following deaths in May:
• A girl, 5 months, died May 10 in El Paso, Texas, after her mother, a high school teacher, unknowingly left her behind in her SUV.
• A boy, 4, died May 15 in Transylvania County, N.C., after his grandmother forgot to drop him off at daycare.
• A boy, 11 months, died May 16 in Miami, Fla., died after being left behind in his mother's car.
• A girl, 1, died May 17 in Dallas, Texas, after her mother, an elementary school teacher, unknowingly left her behind in her vehicle.
• A boy, 1, died May 24 in Corpus Christi, Texas, after his uncle forgot to drop him off at daycare.
• A boy, 18 months, and girl, 2 months died May 26 in Glen Allen, Va., when they were left in the car while the mother was at work.
All of the children were left by a family member, and all but one child were under age 2.
WFMY News 2 talked to a mother who was born and raised in North Carolina. She now lives in Texas. About two years ago, her husband forgot to drop their daughter "Ray Ray" off at daycare. He accidentally left her in the backseat of his car. The heat took her life.
"She never met a stranger. She would make people stop in their tracks and say, 'Oh my, what a beautiful child you have,'" Ray Ray's mother, Kristie Reeves-Cavaliero, said. "The perception of the public is that these accidents happen only to bad parents who knowingly leave their kids behind...Unfortunately, the reality is the majority of cases involve good, loving parents who simply forgot a child in the backseat."
Kristie says the last memory she has of her daughter is Ray Ray waving goodbye as she was buckled in her car seat. Now, she and her husband have launched a foundation to help prevent other parents from making the same kind of mistake.
In as little as ten minutes, the temperature inside a car can climb twenty degrees. Oftentimes, it's a lot hotter inside a car than it is outside. While it's uncomfortable to be inside a hot car when you're an adult, kids physically cannot handle it.
"Their body can't regulate temperature as well as an adult. Their body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult. So, it can be overwhelming and potentially fatal for a child," Leigha Shepler from Safe Kids Guilford said.
Here's one tip that could have saved Ray Ray's life and just might save your child: Ask your daycare to call you if your child is not there on time.
Three other things you can do today:
1. Put something in the backseat, like a cell phone or purse, so you have to open the backdoor when leaving your car.
2. Put a stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder when your baby is in the back seat.
3. Every time you park your car, open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind
There are also car seat alarm devices you can purchase that will alert you if you accidentally leave your child behind.
Finally, Kids and Cars has created a "Look Before You Lock" brochure which every parent should read.