Health Minister Yael German has decided to implement a simple and inexpensive
idea suggested by The Jerusalem Post’s
health and science editor, which could
prevent parents, caretakers and drivers from leaving small children alone in hot
vehicles for hours – something that often results in their
Another such tragedy occurred in Ramat Gan on Monday, when a
father distracted by a cellphone call forgot his nine-month-old daughter was in
the infant seat behind him in his jeep.
He drove home, parked his car and
drove his motorcycle to work – unknowingly leaving her to die in the searing
heat inside. Only late that afternoon was she noticed, and Magen David Adom
alerted, but paramedics were unable to resuscitate her. She was pronounced dead
at Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center.
Five years ago, the Post’s
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich came up with an idea she thought could prevent such tragedies. A circular
sticker would be provided at vehicle licensing bureaus in any of a number of
languages to suit the driver. The sticker, with room in the center for a photo
of the driver’s own child or grandchild, would state: “Your child is more
precious than your car; never leave a young child inside alone for even a
moment!” Siegel-Itzkovich thought that regulations should require the presence of the
sticker on the inside of the driver’s door for getting a new annual vehicle
She reasoned that, unlike the Health Ministry’s tobacco warnings, which
smokers prefer to ignore, parents do not want to harm their children; by seeing
the message and the photos every time they entered or exited the vehicle (or
even made a left turn), it would become a subliminal message and part of their
Siegel-Itzkovich presented her idea to then-deputy health minister
Ya’acov Litzman soon after he took office, but he rejected. At a press
conference in his office a few years later, covering a report on children’s
deaths from accidents presented by Beterem – The National Center for Children’s
Safety and Health, he continued to insist it “wouldn’t work.”
ministry official (and physician) said it could not be tried unless there were
published medical journal articles proving it was successful.
turned to Eli Beer, founder and president of the voluntary rescue organization
United Hatzalah, who after a moment’s thought pulled out his checkbook to pay
for the design and printing of the first stickers in Hebrew, Arabic, English and
When he distributed them around the country, the reactions by drivers
were very enthusiastic, leading Beer to get sponsorship from the Harel Insurance
Company – which paid for the printing of hundreds of thousands of stickers. They
have been distributed around the country, even at United Hatzalah events in the
often sweltering Jewish communities of Los Angeles and Miami. Beer received
reports that they raised parents’ awareness and saved lives.
organization could not make the stickers’ presence mandatory for all vehicle
licenses – which would make drivers pay extra attention to the
In a meeting with German three weeks ago, Siegel-Itzkovich presented her
with stickers and her idea; and the minister said she would consider
On Tuesday, following the widely publicized tragedy, German said she
had decided to adopt the idea of campaigns to distribute the stickers in gas
stations, health fund clinics and vehicle licensing garages. In the next few
days, German said, she will choose a ministry staffer who is “suited to carrying
out” the idea as soon as possible.
The licensing proposal would require
consultation with other ministries and writing regulations or passing a law, the
minister said, but in the meantime, young lives could be saved.
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