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Never leave a child alone in a car…Not Even for a Minute!


August 3, 2015

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936

                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

Never leave a child alone in a car…Not Even for a Minute!

The Montana Children’s Trust Fund’s is promoting the ‘Not Even for a Minute’ campaign that reminds parents and caregivers to never leave children unattended in or around vehicles.

Left alone in a vehicle for even a short time, a child is in danger of heatstroke, dehydration, overheating, hyperthermia, injury, abduction and even death.

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials said no child should ever be put in that situation. “There have been deaths and several close calls over the years in Montana, so it’s something we all need to be vigilant about,” said Montana Children’s Trust Fund Director Jamey Petersen.

National statistics as of July 27, 2015, show there have been 11 reported fatalities due to children being left in the car. In 2014, there were 32. On average, 38 children in the United States have died each year since 1998 from being left in a hot car.

Temperatures in cars soar quickly, said Melissa Lavinder of the DPHHS Children’s Trust Fund. “Even with a window cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach very dangerous temperatures within minutes,” she said. “When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as quickly as an adult. In these extreme conditions, children can die or suffer a permanent disability in a matter of minutes.”

Believe it or not, routines and distractions have caused people to mistakenly leave children behind in cars. Below are further prevention tips.

  • Make your child as visible as possible.
  • Place your purse, briefcase, or whatever is to be carried from the car in the back seat with your child to serve as an additional reason to check that area.
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone or computer to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
  • Remember to use drive-through convenience provided by banks, restaurants, and other businesses.
  • Pay at the pump at gas stations.

Prevent trunk entrapment and other accidents.

  • Teach your children the dangers of a car and let them know that it is not a toy or playground.
  • Always lock your car, even at home, and remind your friends and neighbors to do the same. Unlocked cars pose a risk to children who are naturally curious.
  • Always put your keys in a safe and secure place out of children’s reach.
  • Check pools, vehicles, and car trunks immediately when a child is missing.

If you see an unattended child in a car, dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide. If you would like to be involved in the ‘Not Even for a Minute Campaign’, visit http://dphhs.mt.gov/childrenstrustfund/notevenforaminute.aspx for materials to share and distribute.

Media coverage and Public Service Announcements can be found at:

About the Children’s Trust Fund

The Montana Children’s Trust Fund encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Montana a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities.

The Montana Children’s Trust Fund works to reduce and ultimately eliminate maltreatment of Montana children. The trust fund provides financial support to local programs across the state to prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen families. For more information about the Montana Children’s Trust Fund contact Petersen at jpetersen@mt.gov or 444-3002.