Newport Beach resident Deborah Mayhew has been involved for many years as a board member and event co-chair for The Raise Foundation, Orange County’s child abuse prevention organization established by the Board of Supervisors in 1974.
Now, Mayhew is helping the Raise Foundation get the word out about their new Kaitlyn’s Law campaign: “Don’t Forget. Double Check,” which has to do with leaving a child unattended in a car.
On average, 37 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being left inside a car. As of June 2015, 32 children nationwide have perished this way.
In California, the law is named for a Southern California infant, Kaitlyn, who at 6-months-old perished from heat-related complications after being left unattended in a motor vehicle. California is one of 19 states to have such a law.
“We hear the stories about neglectful parents willfully leaving their kids alone, but according to the most recent statistics, in the majority of cases, the parents/caregivers simply become distracted and forget the child is in the car,” wrote Mayhew in an email. “Loving, well-informed parents have lost their children because of this and it is heartbreaking to read their stories. Our goal is not to finger point, but to educate parents/caregivers with this information so such a tragedy does not happen to them. We want to remind parents/caregivers not to leave their child alone in a car during any type of weather or under any circumstance–even for a minute! Don’t forget. Double check!”
Also championing the cause are many local car dealerships, banks, hospitals and medical clinics, colleges, stores, companies, youth groups, places of worship, and others. A comprehensive social media campaign, onsite presentations, radio spots, and information booths at community events will aide in educating and reminding the public.
What should someone do if they see a child left unattended in a car? Call 911 immediately. Alert the parent/caregiver and a security guard if they are nearby. Check the door. If it is unlocked, open the door. If it is locked, talk to the child with a comforting tone and ask the child if they can unlock the door. Other frequently asked questions and answers, reminder tips, downloadable fliers, and how to get involved can be found at RaiseForKaitlyn.Weebly.com.
Q&A about Kaitlyn’s Law
Q: How long does it take for the inside of a car to heat up?
A: Within just 10 minutes the temperature inside a car can rise to 20 degrees higher than the outside air. So if it is 100 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can hit 120 degrees in that time. Those were the conditions under which Kaitlyn died.
What are some tips to keep a child safe?
- No matter how rushed you are, be sure to look in the back seat every time you leave your car.
- Don’t overlook sleeping babies and backwards facing car seats.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. After putting your child in the seat, place the stuffed animal in front with you to remind yourself.
- Place your purse, briefcase, or cell phone in the back seat.
Share these tips with everyone you know who cares for a child (parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends).