Hot Cars Are Silent Killers: May 12, 2011

It's a silent killer that is costing kids their lives. Every year there are a handful of heartbreaking, but preventable deaths. Children who die after being left behind in a hot car. Florida leads the nation in the number of these tragedies. Lee Memorial Health System is launching a new campaign to make people aware of this potential hazard.

Liz Moreno is with the Safe Kids program, she says the nationwide statistics are staggering. "From 1998 to 2010 we had 494 deaths from children from being left in the vehicle" Florida may be known as the sunshine state, but it doesn't take extreme sun to be dangerous to children. Left in a hot car, even a relatively mild 70-degree day can be a killer.

Dad Tommy Passamandi can't understand how something like that happens. "It's easy, you know. just get them in and out of the car seat" he says, "if you want run in the store you get them out and take them with you."

But people are forgetful, especially when their routine has been disrupted. 51% of caregivers say they simply forgot the child was in the backseat. Most of the victims are under the age of two. To help parents remember them, Moreno suggests they use physical prompts. "We recommend you grab your purse and you put it behind, a briefcase, a bag, something that's going to remind you that there is a child in the back seat."

The Safe Kids campaign is also passing out stickers for your car. "There is a one that sticks on the window" she says. "And then a meter that we recommend that you put either on your car seat or your dashboard, somewhere where it's going to be visible to you."

The meter displays the temperature to show how quickly cars heat up. It's a visible reminder of the priceless passenger inside.