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Toddler dies in Columbus after being left in hot car, nonprofit says

The 3-year-old is the seventh kid to die in a hot car this year, according to Kids and Car Safety.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A toddler died after being left in a hot car on Sunday, according to Kids and Car Safety. The kid's grandmother had taken her grandchildren to church and returned home. She didn't notice their 3-year-old did not get out of the car, the organization said.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another example of why it is extremely important to have effective occupant detection technology as standard equipment in all vehicles as quickly as possible," Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Car Safety, the leading national nonprofit working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles said.

According to Kids and Car Safety, this is the second child to die in Georgia because of a hot car and the seventh in the country this year. 

There have been 42 child hot car deaths since 1993 in the state; the nonprofit said makes Georgia ranked No. 6 in the nation. 

“Every day that we delay in advancing these cost-effective detection technologies means children are needlessly at risk of dying. An occupant detection and alert system could have gotten assistance to this sweet angel before it was too late,” she said. 

The organization provides these tips for preventing child hot car deaths:

Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Create simple habits to help keep your child safe.

  • Make sure your child is never left alone in a car:
  • Place the child’s diaper bag or item in the front passenger seat as a visual cue that the child is with you.
  • Make it a habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind. To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat (employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.)
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled. 
  • Clearly announce and confirm who is getting each child out of the vehicle. Miscommunication can lead to thinking someone else removed the child.

Make sure children cannot get into a parked car:

  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.
  • Never leave car keys within reach of children.
  • Use childproofing knob covers and door alarms to prevent children from exiting your home unnoticed.
  • Teach children to honk the horn or turn on hazard lights if they become stuck inside a car.
  • If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area carefully, even if they’re locked.

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