Commissioner Doak Urges Oklahomans Not to Leave Children in Vehicles

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak warned the state’s residents on Thursday about the fatal dangers of leaving unattended children inside vehicles.

Doak said, “2010 was a record year for hyperthermia deaths of children in the United States, with 49 youngsters reportedly killed after being left in cars, according to the Department of Geosciences at California’s San Francisco State University.” He added, “Statistics show about 41 children die this way each year nationwide.”

Child-safety advocates at advise that a child’s body temperature rises at a rate three to five times that of an adult, adding that a core temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is considered fatal, with cell damage occurring and organs beginning to shut down. According to the American Meteorological Society, a car in direct sunlight, without ventilation, can reach temperatures in excess of 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Even on cooler days with temperatures in the 60s, the interior of a closed car can reach 110 degrees.

“No child should ever be left alone in a vehicle, even for a minute or two, even with the windows rolled down,” Doak said.

The Commissioner has adopted and adapted a list of recommendations made by AAA Oklahoma, law enforcement, and other child advocates earlier this month in their annual campaign to save lives by raising the awareness of adult caregivers to the dangers of leaving children in vehicles.

“I would add to this list one simple piece of advice,” Doak said. “Wherever you’re going and whatever you’re doing in a vehicle, put your children first.”

The Commissioner concludes: “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.”