Improving public health messaging on hot car deaths

man outside with tree

Castle_Williams_bio_pic.jpgCritical new findings urge better messaging about the dangers of leaving children in hot cars:

Each year, dozens of young children die after being locked in a hot car, but new research from the University of Georgia's department of geography shows that most parents don't believe it could happen to them.

Their findings, published recently in the journal Injury Prevention, could help improve public health messaging and prevent more deaths.

Department of geography doctoral student Castle Williams and professor Andrew Grundstein interviewed parents and caregivers as well as experts in meteorology, epidemiology, psychology and child injury about the topic. The results show significant differences in the ways in which parents and experts understood and received information about the dangers of hot cars.

Overall the study shows that a parent's own ability to acknowledge their likelihood of accidentally forgetting a child in a hot car is an important factor in improving public health messaging and preventing deaths in the future.

As amazing as it seems, the data published by Williams and Grundstein is the first to prove the anecdotal evidence that parents don't believe they can forget their children in hot cars. This is the kind of research that can really help people immediately, and would make a worthy subject for public service announcements on radio and television. Great job.

Image: Castle Williams