Hot summer months are a danger for young children in many different ways: dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn and so on. But one threat, which keeps popping up in the news more and more, is death by being left in a hot vehicle. If it keeps happening, what can we do to prevent it?

According to ‘Kids and Cars,’ an advocacy group out of Kansas City, so far this year, 27 children in the U.S. have passed away from being left in a hot vehicle. This large amount already passes the total for all of the year 2015.

When we look at the numbers, since 1990 there have been 755 kids who died in hot cars. 55 percent of them were unknowingly left behind, and in 28 percent of those incidents, children made their way into the vehicle on their own.

Even if it’s just 60 degrees, which doesn’t seem dangerous at all, the temp inside a car can reach 110. In just 10 minutes, a car’s internal temperature can rise 20 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The numbers are shocking, and very unfortunate. But luckily, there’s a new device that has been created to aid parents with the issue.

General Motors Co. has paved the way with the first-ever rear seat reminder system. The vehicle to introduce it is the 2017 GMC Acadia, a midsize SUV.

Here’s how it works: The sensor monitors the car’s rear doors. If either door opens and then closes within 10 minutes before the vehicle starts, or if they’re opened and closed while the car is running, the car will sound five chimes, and then display a visual reminder to check the back seat when the car is turned off.

This may be the first device installed within a car, but there are several aftermarket systems available. A company named Rear View Safety Inc. makes a system, which costs $100, that activates a sensor if the rear doors are opened before a trip. An alarm sounds when the car turns off, but the driver is able to easily deactivate it. If the system isn’t deactivated within 40 seconds, the car horn will sound.

There are also many other systems out there you can purchase on your own, such as car seats with sensors and alert systems. But the NHTSA warns buyers that any device added to a car seat could compromise safety.

To be safe, parents and drivers should get in the habit to always check your back seats before leaving your vehicle. Write a note to remind yourself, if that will help. A good idea for remembering is to keep a large stuffed animal in the car seat. When a kid is riding in the car, place the stuffed animal in the front seat. That way, when you park the car and notice the toy in the front, you’ll easily be reminded that the child is still in the vehicle.

Also, always lock your car doors when the vehicle is parked - even if it is at home. This will prevent children from unknowingly hopping in the car. And if your child goes missing, look in the car first.

Source: ABC News, CNN

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