Lawmakers introduce bill to help prevent hot car deaths

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This year across the United States, nine children have died in hot cars, and summer hasn’t even started! Wednesday, national lawmakers introduced a bill to prevent any child from dying in a hot car again.

The Hot Cars Act of 2017 would require all new vehicles be equipped with some kind of an alert system. Whether that be an alarm or screen message to remind drivers before they get out to look in the back.

 No parent thinks it could happen to them.

 “I pulled him from the car seat unaware of anyone around and ran into the office with him in my arms screaming,” said Miles Harrison, whose son died in a hot car.

Every year dozens of children like Harrison’s son die in sweltering hot cars. OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital Dr. Brad Gable has been on call for three devastating hot car emergencies where the child died.

“Those are ones that stick with you forever, you never forget those,” said Dr. Gable.

Dr. Gable said a child can suffer heatstroke within a matter of minutes being left in a hot vehicle.

 “Those cars can reach temperatures in excess of 120 degrees within minutes and then that child starts to perspire, thirst, then can’t quench that, and then can’t compensate because they stop sweating,” he said.

Columbus dad Travis Merideth said it’s a scary thought.

“I can’t imagine ever forgetting her,” he said referring to his toddler daughter. “But, I can’t imagine what the parents who have forgotten their children go through,” said Merideth.

The Hot Car Act of 2017 would make alert systems standard. Requiring vehicles be equipped with existing technology to remind drivers a passenger is still in the back seat when the car is turned off.

Merideth said he thinks the idea could work.

“Anything to add a little bit of safety is a good thing.”

 Lawmakers behind the bill say 800 children have died in hot cars since 1990. General Motors already offers the “rear seat reminder” in several of its 2017 models.

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