Report: Oklahoma sees more children die in hot cars per capita than any other state

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s a heartbreaking statistic; Oklahoma has seen more children die in hot cars per capita than any other state.

In 2020, 24 kids died in hot cars in the United States. Four of them were in Oklahoma.

As the temperatures warm up, a group has formed to try to raise awareness and prevent more tragedies.

One-year-old Hank is Kristie Edelin’s first child.

“He definitely keeps us on our toes!” she said. 

But she still realizes how quickly a parent or caregiver forgetting their child in a car could lead to tragedy.

“I always try to put all of my bags and things in the back seat,” said Edelin. 

That’s why she and fellow new mom Grace Lawson joined a group on Friday to raise awareness of the dangers of children being trapped in hot cars.

“It’s just tragic and heartbreaking,” Lawson said.

AAA Oklahoma, OU Health physicians, and Oklahoma City firefighters have unfortunately had to respond to these tragedies.

“We don’t play around when we come up on cars like this,” said Maj. Louie Marschik, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “We have our own equipment to where we can remove the windows immediately.”

They say they don’t want to shame parents, they want to help.

“Sometimes it’s just a change of a normal routine and people forget, and it’s horrible,” Marschik said. 

According to AAA Oklahoma, children have died of heat stroke on 52-degree days. The temperature in a car can rise nearly 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.

Experts recommend you put something like your cell phone or purse in the back seat with your child.

“I’ve even heard throw one of your shoes in the back seat,” Marschik said. “You’re going to grab your shoe so you’re not going to forget your child.”

If you see a child alone in the car in a parking lot, take action.

“At the very least,  I’m going to stay with that car and I’m going to call 911,” said Marschik. “If I see something that just doesn’t look right, I’ll take my chances. It’s a vehicle, this is a child. It’s a no-brainer.”

Experts also recommend putting a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat.

When you put the child in the car, move the stuffed animal to the front seat as a reminder.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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