How Georgia parents can prevent hot car deaths

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 11:07 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As a Columbus family comes to grips with the tragic loss of their three-year-old boy, News Leader 9 is digging deeper into this nationwide problem of kids dying in hot cars.

While some are still trying to understand how anyone could forget their child and leave them in the car, experts say it’s a mistake many parents make.

Three-year-old Kendrick Engram Jr. was found in the back seat of a car in Wendy’s parking lot Sunday night. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says Ingram’s grandmother had been out all day with several children. When they returned home around 5:30 that evening, Engram never got out of their SUV. While it’s unclear how long the child had been in the backseat, officials say no one noticed the baby was missing until after eight that night.

“A car heats up quickly. In less than 10 minutes, it can increase by 20 degrees,” said Dr. Kathryn Cheek, a Physician at Rivertown Pediatrics.

Many people across the Chattahoochee Valley say they don’t understand how the mistake happened. But experts say incidents like this happen more often than you might think.

According to Safe Kids Columbus, Engram is the seventh child to die in a car this year nationwide and the second in the state of Georgia. The organization also says more than 1,000 children have died in hot cars since 1990.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t forget there’s a kid in your car? Experts say put something in the backseat like a bag or something we all use -- our cell phone.

There are also apps like Kars4Kids that alert parents when they leave their car to remind them they left a kid behind.

And there are other heat safety tips parents should be aware of. For example, Dr. Cheek has this advice -- “If you’re used to having soaked wet diapers, be looking for that. If you’re suddenly seeing a decrease in the amount of urine that you’re seeing in your baby’s diapers, he or she may be getting dehydrated,” said Dr. Cheek.

She also stressed the importance of ensuring EVERYONE gets out of parked cars as temperatures hit the triple digits across the Fountain City.

“Kids are sort of strapped down in car seats, the elderly sometimes can’t move either -- they can’t get out of the car, they may be using a walker,” said Dr. Cheek.

There’s still no word if any charges will be filed in Kendrick Engram’s death. However, family friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the child’s funeral.

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