Beckley Fire Department supports Department of Transportation campaign

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – As temperature increase throughout the summer, ensuring child safety in cars becomes all the more important.

The US Department of Transportation recently announced a $3 million campaign to prevent child deaths in cars at hot temperatures. In honor of heatstroke awareness day, the Beckley Fire Department wants to help ensure that parents keep their children safe throughout the summer.

“If you think you might forget your child in the car, you can always maybe put a stuffed animal in the front seat,” said Beckley Fire Department Lieutenant Chris Graham. “As a reminder, you know, you grabbed everything else, you see the stuffed animal, ‘Oh I’ve got to grab the child.’ Because 54% of the children who lost their lives due to being stuck in a car were just forgotten.”

We performed a test using our station car to show how quickly temperatures can rise to dangerous levels in the summer. It was 76 degrees outside the car, but in 10 minutes, the temperature inside the car rose from 80 degrees to 98 degrees. Situations can become severe very quickly, especially during the hottest time of the year.

“Within 10 minutes, the car temperature can raise maybe 20 degrees,” Graham said. “Although that doesn’t sound like a lot, if it’s 80 that means it’s 100 inside the car. And it doesn’t take long for your body temperature to get over 107 degrees. And once it does that, it could mean brain damage or even death.”

Lieutenant Graham carries a seat-belt cutter with him, which is a useful tool to have in order to increase car safety. Aside from physical tools, having awareness is the most important factor in preventing a harmful situation.

“It’s just always focus,” Graham said. “They even suggested placing your cell phone or something that you need, like a lady’s purse, in the back seat with the child. So that way, when you get out, you have to retrieve that to go in or go anywhere else. So you’ll never forget your child in the car.”

The Department of Transportation’s digital campaign will target 18 states throughout the country.