Safekids Logo

1000 SW Jackson Suite 230
Topeka, KS 66612-1274
(785) 296-1223
(785) 296-8649 (FAX)

Jan Stegelman

Executive Committee:
Randall Bolin

Dennis Cooley, MD
Medical Advisor
American Academy of
Pediatrics, Kansas

John Drees
Douglas County
SAFE KIDS Coalition

John Halbran
Kansas Safety Belt
Education Office

Jim Keating
Kansas State
Firefighters Association

Elena Nuss
Kansas State
Fire Marshal's Office

Cindy Samuelson
Kansas Hospital Association

For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Safe Kids Kansas Reminds Parents:
Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Vehicle

Every year, approximately 30 children die of heatstroke after being left in parked cars. Even when the outside temperature is only 80° F, the temperature inside a car receiving direct sunlight can reach 110º F after 5 minutes. “Cracking” the windows does not prevent the temperature in the vehicle from reaching a dangerously high level. A small child’s body temperature can increase three to five times as fast as an adult’s. The resulting heat-related illness can cause permanent organ damage or death. From 1998 through 2006 in the US, at least 320 children have perished in this manner and four of those deaths took place in Kansas. Summer hasn’t even started - yet five children have already lost their lives this year after being left alone in hot vehicles.

Power windows are another source of injury for children in motor vehicles. Since 2001, at least two Kansas children have died after being strangled by power windows.

“Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a quick errand,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “And don’t let your child play in or around a parked car, even in your own garage or driveway.”

Kids can enter an unlocked car parked at home and might not be able to get back out. Approximately one-third of child fatalities from car overheating occur when kids crawl into unlocked cars and get trapped. “Lock the doors, lock the trunk and keep the keys out of children’s reach,” says Stegelman.

Check to make sure all children get out of the vehicle at your destination. Don’t forget sleeping babies. “Tragically, every year there are new cases of parents or caregivers forgetting and leaving small children in vehicles,” says Stegelman. “You might think you could never forget that your child is with you, but if you’re dropping off a child at school or day care and that’s not part of your daily routine, it can happen.” As a reminder get into the habit of placing your cell phone, purse or briefcase on the floor of the rear seat, near where the child is seated, to make sure you have to enter the rear seat before leaving the vehicle.

Safe Kids Kansas recommends:

  • Use drive-thru services when available. Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
  • Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach older children how to unlock the doors if they unintentionally get locked in a vehicle.
  • To prevent children from being locked in the trunk, ask your dealer about getting your car retrofitted with an interior trunk release.
  • Hot interior surfaces can burn a child’s skin. Before you put your child in a car that has been parked in a warm spot, check the temperature of the car seat or upholstery.
  • If your kids do get locked in a car, get them out as quickly as possible. If he/she is hot or seems sick, call 9-1-1 immediately for follow-up assessment. If you find a child left alone in a parked car, call 9-1-1 and get some air into the car, even if you have to break a window. Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Finally, note that local prosecutors can file criminal charges of child endangerment or neglect against an adult who leaves a child alone in a car — anywhere, even for a minute.

For more information, call Safe Kids Kansas at 1-800-332-6262 , or visit the Safety Tips page at or

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit |