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Kids left in hot cars a deadly danger in summer months

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - With summer officially a few days away already 13 kids across the country have died from being left alone in a hot car. 

Just last week in Flint, Texas a 4-year-old girl died after getting in a car on her own.

It's a scary statistic that most parents or caretakers never even think about or imagine. On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths, according to Deona Bien who is the vice president for www.Kidsandcars.org.

Bien says in most cases a parent or caretaker leaves the child in the car by accident.

"Your brain goes on auto pilot and you think you have done the tasks you needed to do by dropping your child off and you get distracted," Bien said.

Bien says the inside of a car, even on a rather cool day, can heat up quickly as the car acts like a convection oven.

"The first 10 minutes you turn your car off, your car will go up 20 degrees and it will continue to escalate about 10 degrees every ten minutes following that," Bien said.

There is a checklist of things people can do to keep their child safe. First, set your cell phone alarm as a reminder that your child is in the back seat. It's also good to leave important items like your phone, purse, or wallet in the backset so you will see your child when you reach for your items.

Another great tip is to use a stuffed animal and place it in the front passenger seat so when you grab your stuff, the bear will act as a memory trigger that your child is in the back seat.

For Bien, keeping kids safe became a mission of hers in 2004 after her daughter died from being left by a baby sitter in a hot car only days after her first birthday.

"It takes three seconds to check for your back seat to see if you have precious cargo inside. Three seconds could save a lifetime of heartache," Bien said.

Bien says it's not only babies that die from being left in a car. Older kids have also died from heat stroke after being in a hot car. 

Bien says she has also seen cases where kids make their way into a car just playing around to later be found dead because they could not get out.

So far this year in our state, already two children have died, one in Florence and another in Hartsville.

For more information on this topic and other information on keeping your child safe you can log onto kidsandcars.org

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