Hyperthermia was a term very unfamiliar to me just two months ago. The week before I started work, my manager – Kyle Johnson – suggested I read the famous article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post about fatal distraction. As an ignorant 24 year old, I immediately thought, “Who could ever leave their child alone in a car?” I simply did not understand. Yet, it happens daily. In fact, I remember babysitting for a woman who once left her child in the car because she did not want to wake him from his nap – an action that could have been tragic.
My perspective has changed quite drastically since I started working for Safe Kids this past March. As a frequent babysitter and having spent numerous years as a camp counselor, hyperthermia is one issue I never learned about. Many words can be said about hyperthermia – horrific, tragic, and awful – but few understand the true meaning. While it is often instinctual for humans to blame others, what many do not realize is that it could happen to you. In fact, on average it happens 38 times a year – all over the country with all different demographics. But these unfortunate, yet preventable accidents can be avoided – something I have comprehensively learned at Safe Kids.
These past couple weeks have not only been a bit overwhelming and challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Having spent this time preparing for our NLYCA event in Florida, among various other projects, it was remarkable to see the seamless launch take place. Yet, it was not until our event launch that I realized how truly significant and outstanding the Safe Kids team of coalitions are. This press conference could not have taken place without the help of our Florida leaders – no question. Their dedication reaches far beyond the local community. And their commitment to Safe Kids was so clearly shown throughout the entire process of the conference, from setting up to cleaning up.
Safe Kids has also been blessed with a courageous family who have gone above and beyond to share their story with others. The McKinnon’s – caring and dedicated parents of three – lost their daughter Payton last March when the father accidently left her in his car during a work day.
Not only has hyperthermia become a common word in my vocabulary over these past couple weeks but also my understanding of the Safe Kids networks has not yet ceased to amaze me. I will continue to look forward to meeting coalitions and coordinators.