Anyone who lives in Oklahoma knows the summer temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly, especially for children.

Already this year, seven children in the U.S. have died after being left in hot cars. Last year, we had two such tragedies in Oklahoma.

Since 2008, it has been illegal in Oklahoma to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle, yet it still continues to happen.

Many deaths happen because people don’t know how quickly a car can heat up, even if a window is down. In hot weather, the temperature inside a car can rise by seven degrees in five minutes. In fact, the temperature in a closed car can reach 110 degrees even when it’s 60 degrees outside. Also, a child’s body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s body temperature.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health offers the following safety tips:

  • Never leave any child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.
  • Check the back seat! Check to make sure all children are taken out of the vehicle when you reach your destination. More than 50 percent of heat-related deaths occur when a distracted caregiver forgets that a child is in the back seat.
  • If you are transporting a child and it is not normally in your routine, set up a reminder for yourself – a phone call from a friend or spouse, a note on the vehicle dashboard, or place something you need for the day (such as a purse, briefcase, or cell phone) in the back seat so you will check the back seat and see the child before you leave the vehicle.
  • If you are transporting children and cargo, such as groceries, take children from the vehicle first.
  • Keep vehicle doors and trunks closed and locked. Up to one-third of heat-related deaths occur when children are playing in unlocked vehicles and become trapped inside.
  • Keep vehicle keys out of reach and out of sight. Teach children not to play in or around vehicles.
  • Teach children that vehicle trunks are not safe places to play or hide. Show children how to use the emergency trunk release if they become trapped inside.

Insurance helps pay for treatment when a family member is hurt or sick, but the biggest key to fully protecting your family is eliminating risk whenever possible, not just insuring against it. Child deaths inside overheated vehicles are absolutely preventable and Oklahomans must take every step to eliminate the risk.