Government moves to prevent toddler car deaths
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Government moves to prevent toddler car deaths

After spate of children perishing when forgotten in hot vehicles, MKs okay new technology, national ad campaign

The scene where a baby boy was 'forgotten' in a car in Ashdod on May 30, 2016. The baby died of heat prostration, confirmed by paramedics at the scene. (Flash90)
The scene where a baby boy was 'forgotten' in a car in Ashdod on May 30, 2016. The baby died of heat prostration, confirmed by paramedics at the scene. (Flash90)

A joint Knesset committee on Wednesday accepted several recommendations aimed at preventing the deaths of children forgotten in overheated cars, following a spate of such cases.

One of the proposals is a requirement for all car seats to be fitted with standardized technology that would alert parents should they forget to take their children out of the car. The requirement will be phased in over the next three years.

The joint panel, comprising members of the Science and Technology Committee and the Special Committee for the Rights of the Child and attended by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, heard submissions and suggestions from multiple groups and lawmakers, and accepted several emergency recommendations that will be officially submitted to the Health Ministry in the coming weeks.

Kindergartens across Israel will also introduce a new system for the new school year, whereby teachers and parents will have to notify one another if a child is absent without explanation.

A Magen David Adom ambulance at the site where two children died after being left in a car, in the Al Kaum Regional Council in the Negev, June 22, 2016. (Magen David Adom)
A Magen David Adom ambulance at the site where two children died after being left in a car, in the Al Kaum Regional Council in the Negev, June 22, 2016. (Magen David Adom)

These efforts will be accompanied by a national campaign instructing parents on steps they can take to prevent leaving their children in the car, along with radio advertisements targeting all sectors of Israeli society, in particular minorities.

“We have to take responsibility for the children in Israel, and specifically to deal with the spate of children being left in cars, and treat it as an emergency situation… The Health Ministry and the Transport Ministry have decided to work together towards children’s safety,” said Litzman.

“I am very excited and happy that the emergency program to prevent children being forgotten in cars is underway,” said Kulanu MK Yifat Sasha-Biton, who heads the Special Committee for the Rights of the Child. “This is a safety net to protect the lives of our children, and only by working together can we prevent the next tragedy. This painful phenomenon has already taken the lives of too many children in Israel and we have to make every effort to prevent it.”

United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev in the Knesset on February 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev in the Knesset on February 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev, who heads the Science and Technology Committee, added: “This is an intense effort to move forward with this plan. Five children have died in the past few weeks, which has brought us and all the government ministries to say ‘enough.’… We are here to ensure that this will go into effect quickly and effectively.”

On July 22, a 16-month old girl was left in a car for two hours in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Ilit. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Earlier that month, a 4-year-old boy died in the Bedouin city of Rahat, near Beersheba. His parents took him to a local clinic in a state of clinical death, and he was pronounced dead at Soroka Hospital.

On July 8, an eight-month-old girl died after being left in a locked car in the southern Israeli city of Arad. That death came a month after two young brothers died in the Negev town of Hura.

Since 2008, 23 children have died in Israel as a result of being left inside a closed vehicle, where temperatures can easily reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) when parked in the summer sun.

Israeli media reported on at least 381 cases involving 428 children who were found in cars unable to leave, according to the Safe Kids Israel nonprofit. In 60 percent of the cases, children were left inside the vehicle by caretakers. The remaining cases were of children who locked themselves in a car.

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