If you see a California Highway Patrol (CHP) car with a purple ribbon flying from its antenna, you might wonder “Why?” The answer: August is “Purple Ribbon Month” to raise awareness for the “Unattended Child in a Motor Vehicle Act,” also known as “Kaitlyn’s Law.”
As the summer heat continues, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has a warning for the motoring public: Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says heat stroke, a form of hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under the age of 14.
In July 2008, 23 month-old Jack Winchester died after being left in his mother’s car. The mother was putting groceries away in their Canyon Country home, assuming her other children were watching the toddler.
“Vehicles heat up quickly, even with a window rolled down a couple of inches,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Even on a seemingly cool summer day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels within minutes.”
This year in the United States, according to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, 26 fatalities have resulted from more than two dozen incidents involving children left alone in vehicles. One of those deaths occurred in California in April involving a 7-month-old Antioch girl.
“It only takes a few minutes for tragedy to occur,” added Commissioner Farrow. “If you see a child left unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.”
California law prohibits anyone from leaving a child six years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle without the supervision of someone who is at least 12 years old. A violation of “Kaitlyn’s Law” will result in a fine; but more importantly, it could result in the permanent injury or death of a child.
Kaitlyn’s Law” went into effect in California, January 1, 2002. The law is in memory of Kaitlyn Marie Russell, a 6-month-old baby, who died from hyperthermia after being left unattended in a parked vehicle 10 years ago.
Purple Ribbon Month has been designated by “4 R Kids Sake,” a nationwide non-profit organization, to raise awareness for “Kaitlyn’s Law” while remembering the children who have lost their lives as a result of being unattended in a motor vehicle.
For more information, contact the Newhall CHP Office (661) 294-5540.