A woman asleep in the driver's seat of her car.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
After 661 small children have been left in vehicles since 2008 and 30 have died – three of them since the beginning of this year – the Health Ministry has decided to invest about NIS 1 million in a public campaign to prevent such tragedies.
Associate director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto and deputy director-general for information and international affairs Einav Shimron-Greenboim said on Wednesday that “we must continue to act to prevent such cases. The Beterem-Israel Center for Child Safety and Health will participate in the National Program for Preventing Harm to Children.”
On Tuesday, Neria Tayar of the ultra-Orthodox village of Rechasim near Haifa was found dead in his family car after being left there for five hours. His father had planned to take the toddler to his nursery school but forgot and left him in the car. When Neria’s sister came in the afternoon to the nursery to take him home, she didn’t find him on the premises.
After being contacted, the father rushed from the yeshiva where he studies to the car and found his motionless son. He took him out and tried to perform CPR but to no avail. The police began an investigation and found the death was not intentional but, after the body was released for a funeral, are continuing to look into the incident.
Last year, the ministry initiated its own campaign to distribute stickers to be affixed to the inside of the driver’s door to remind adults not to leave children in vehicles even for a moment. The campaign was inspired by the idea initiated almost a decade ago by The Jerusalem Post’s health editor and was carried out by United Hatzalah president Eli Beer, who produced and distributed 500,000 of his own stickers in a dozen languages in Israel and abroad. Although Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman had rejected it from the beginning, the ministry finally accepted and adopted last year the simple idea, which UH said had proven itself.
Orly Silbinger, director-general of Beterem, said that three deaths in less than four months were all terrible, preventable tragedies.
“It can happen to any of us,” she said. Parents, especially during the warm months, must be very aware of the dangers.” The media activity will include radio, social networks and digital communications. About one-third of the sum will be allocated to the Arab sector. Parents will again be given ministry stickers – in Hebrew or Arabic only – to be affixed to the inside of drivers’ doors.
The predominant age group involved in these preventable accidents are infants and toddlers from birth to three years, with those up to the age of two accounting for about 44% of all cases.
About 70% of the children involved were boys, and in most cases the victims were Jewish. The temperature in vehicles can reach 70 degrees Celsius. Most of the increase in temperature occurs in the first few minutes. In one study, the internal heat of the car increases in the first five minutes by about 75%, and reaches a temperature of between 51 degrees and 67 degrees Celsius in about 15 minutes.
Leaving a window open does not help. Even if you leave a slightly open window, the temperature of the car increases to dangerous levels for children, vulnerable adults and animals. Heat stroke can occur even on days that are not very hot; when the temperature outside was 22 degrees Celsius, within 60 minutes the temperature inside the vehicle rose to 47 degrees Celsius.
The ministry advised that when you’re in the car with the kids, do not talk on the cellphone, because it’s distracting. Put your handbag or your wallet next to the baby seat in the back seat. Set an alarm on your mobile phone as a reminder for when you expect to arrive. Lock the vehicle when parked to prevent children from entering the car and using it as a place to play.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>