With more than 800 children killed inside hot cars since 1988, local safety tech offers tips

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Posted at 5:24 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 05:45:37-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - They are heartbreaking stories, and they happen nearly every summer -- children killed while locked inside a hot car.

"It can happen to anyone,” Arianne Mattone, a local certified child passenger safety technician, said.

Mattone is trying to make sure it does not happen to more parents. As a certified child passenger safety technician, she helps parents make sure car seats are properly installed and that their kids are riding safely.

She listed some reasons why these deaths happen.

"It can be a distraction; it can be autopilot; it can be sleep deprivation,” Mattone explained.

So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported two children dying in a hot car in 2021. It also reported 24 deaths in 2020 and a total 886 since 1998.

"That is a large number,” Mattone said.

No matter the outside temperature, the inside of a car will always be hotter, Mattone said. She demonstrated using a thermometer gun.

The outside temperature was around 80 degrees, but inside her car it was 93 degrees. She also placed the gun against a child’s car seat, and it gave a reading of 105 degrees.

Mattone suggested that you teach your child how to unbuckle themselves, get over to the steering wheel and honk until attention is attracted if they are locked in. For added peace of mind there are devices available that you can consider purchasing.

“More car seats are coming with chest clips that have monitors that you can plug in,” Mattone said. “Then when once you leave the vehicle, if you forget the child it will text your phone.”

Some car manufacturers are also installing reminder features in their cars, such as one on the dashboard, to check the backseats. Mattone offered other suggestions.

“You can put your phone in the back seat; you can put a wallet, purse or briefcase in the backseat,” Mattone said.” Just something to remind you, 'Hey, there's something in the back that I need to get.'"

Related: Awareness raised for child 'backover' deaths after Va. toddler killed by dad backing truck out of driveway

She also says to make sure your car is locked and that you leave your keys somewhere your kids can't reach. Mattone also advised to not leave pets in locked cars.

She also advised against leaving a child or pet in a car even while the windows are open or the air conditioner is running.