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Groups Look To Raise Awareness of Child Heatstroke Deaths

LONG BRANCH: In the last 15 years, over 600 children have died of heatstroke after being left in locked cars.

Monmouth Medical Center and Safe Kids New Jersey are raising awareness of the issue so that number does not increase.

The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center hosted an awareness event on July 30 at Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant to talk about the dangers of child heatstroke.

"Losing once child is one way too many," Safe Kids New Jersey Director Carol Ann Giardelli said. "We lost 44 last year and 18 this year, one as recently as last weekend."

Monmouth Medical Center Pediatrician Renuka Verma said in more than half of heatstroke deaths, the child was forgotten in the car. Twenty nine percent of the time the child gained access to the car, in most cases the trunk, themselves and 18 percent of the time they were intentionally left in the car.

Giardelli said awareness is the key and making sure parents never leave their children in the car unattended.

Verma said the internal temperature of a car can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 140 degrees in 40 minutes.

"It's important for us to understand the facts," she said. "The law states that a minor should never be left alone."

A demonstration was held in the parking lot of Rooney's when an actual 911 call of a woman calling the police after she found a baby locked in a car was played.

Members of the Long Branch Police arrived on the scene and demonstrated what it would be like if they responded to a similar call. The officers showed how they would enter the vehicle and how they administer first aid to the child that was locked in the car.

Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini of 11th legislative district applauded the efforts of Monmouth Medical Center and Safe Kids New Jersey.

"Our responsibility is to share this information with our neighbors and friends," Angelini said.

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