Western Montanans have been hearing for quite some time from Safe Kids Missoula about the danger of leaving children in hot cars.

Now, the state of Montana has joined the chorus for kids’ safety, as the Department of Health and Human Services added its weight to the message due to the extreme hot temperatures around the state.

Grants Manager for the Children’s Trust Fund, Melissa Lavinder counted down the reasons why parents and caregivers need to be extra watchful when they transport their precious cargo.

“We want to encourage parents and caregivers to never leave children unattended in or around vehicles,” said Lavinder. “Leaving a child alone in a vehicle even for a short amount of time can lead to things like heatstroke, dehydration, injury and abduction.”

Lavinder offered some tips to help parents and caregivers remember the child in the back seat.

“Some ways to get around that would be making sure that your child is as visible as possible,” she said. “So putting them in the center seat in the backseat of your car, placing whatever you need to carry in from the car with your child setting a reminder on your phone if you needed to drop your child off with another caregiver or at the daycare, even asking that person to call you if your child didn't arrive. Also, using drive thru conveniences, like banks and restaurants, and we're even paying at the gas pump. Those are all ways that we can prevent this from happening.”

Lavinder also provided statistics on how often children are left alone in vehicles.

“Nationally, about 46% of the time when a child has forgotten the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare preschool,” she said. “It occurs more often on Thursdays and Fridays since that’s the end of the workweek, and nearly 75% of children who are forgotten are under two years old.”

Lavinder said if you see an unattended child in a car, call 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.

If you would like to be involved in the Not Even for a Minute Campaign, contact Amber Barnes at 444-5915.