“Precious Cargo” Campaign Works to Reduce Heatstroke Deaths

A simple piece of paper might help reduce heatstroke deaths: that’s the hope of some groups here in Transylvania County. Back in June, Chris Biecker, director of Moody-Connolly Funeral Home and chairman of the Transylvania County Board of Health, and his wife Suzy created tags warning “Precious Cargo: Don’t Forget Me!” with an image of a baby on one side and a pet’s paw print on the other that are designed to hang from the rearview mirror of vehicles to increase driver awareness of the dangers of hot cars. Printing was provided by CopyWorks of Brevard. Then Biecker got the Transylvania County Department of Public Health, the Brevard Police Department and the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Department on board to support the campaign. “I see this as community-level advocacy for our most vulnerable children,” Biecker said. An average of 38 children have died in hot cars each year in the U.S. since 1998 and 13 have died so far this year. More than half of these heat stroke deaths occurred because a caregiver left the child in the car unintentionally, but another 20 percent happen because the child was intentionally left in the car. About 30 percent of deaths occur because the child got in the car without anyone knowing and couldn’t get out. When the outside temperature is in the 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. But heatstroke can take place when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees, and cracking the windows or not parking in direct sunlight does not make a car significantly cooler. Heatstroke is most...