Cuddly little bears make sweet gifts, but they also serve as lifesavers, reminding caregivers to always take a baby or toddler out of the car’s back seat.
It can happen to any parent. A hectic morning, an unexpected event or a lapse in judgment can result in a nightmare situation: a child left inside a hot car.
In 2013, 44 children died of heat stroke in the United States, according to San Francisco State University’s Department of Earth & Climate Sciences. Typically, when the heat gets above 85 degrees, and the heat index rises, little ones face life-threatening medical issues if left alone in a car.
To help parents and other caregivers remember to always check the back seat, Baylor Medical Center at Irving developed the “Backseat BuddyTM” bear program. Last year, the hospital gave approximately 2,000 of the cuddly bears to the parents of newborns.
The Backseat BuddyTM clips to the car keys in the ignition. Once drivers turn off their cars and get out, they take the baby out and place the bear in the car seat to go inside. When the parent returns, the baby or toddler goes back into the car seat and the bear clips back to the car keys.
The bear is a visual reminder of the child in the car’s back seat.
“Heat stroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 105 degrees fahrenheit, [and is] associated with neurological impairments. The body is not able to cope with the excessive heat,” said Dr. Charles Su, medical director of the emergency at Baylor Medical Center at Irving.
A child’s body temperature can warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Normally, people cool down by sweating, but in extreme heat the body can lose its ability to regulate temperature. The sweating function fails and body temperature rises rapidly, resulting in heat stroke, which is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency.
View the video below for a brief overview of the program and what you can do to keep your child safe.
In summary, the Backseat BuddyTM program serves as a reminder to parents that there are children in the car. Be sure to use your life-saving bear by following these simple steps:
- Clip the Backseat BuddyTM bear to your ignition keys during your drive to daycare, work or the grocery store.
- Once the vehicle is turned off, take the keys out, and remove the child from the car seat.
- Unclip the bear from the ignition keys and clip it to the car seat. If the child is no longer using an infant seat, place the bear in the car seat.
- When you return to your vehicle, safely secure the child in the car seat, then clip the bear back onto the ignition keys.
- Repeat the process so that the Backseat BuddyTM bear never leaves your vehicle. The bear will serve as a constant reminder that a child is in your back seat.
Below are more tips to help parents remember young backseat passengers:
- Place in the back seat, a briefcase, purse or cell phone that will be needed at the next stop as a reminder to check the back seat before going into your house or office.
- Create an electronic reminder on your calendar to make sure children were dropped off at daycare.
- Teach children that cars are not a place to play. They may become accidentally locked in a hot car.
In the deadly summer heat, let’s remember to take precaution to protect those who need us most.