From his pictures, Dustin Gessert looks like he and actor Bradley Cooper were separated at birth. But Gessert, an officer with the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department, made his own headlines recently as the leading man in a rescue story.
On an 85-degree day at the end of May, Officer Gessert was responding to an unrelated child welfare 911 call when he came across what could have been a tragic situation. He had to look twice before he saw the small boy, left alone in a car.
Every 10 days, across the United States, a child dies while unattended in a hot car. It only takes a few minutes for a car to heat up and become deadly to a child inside. As summer temperatures rise, more kids are at risk – the death toll this summer has already exceeded 20.
As parents, we often have conflicted feelings about safety: On the one hand, we can sometimes be too cautious, overestimating our child’s level of risk of a particular danger. And at the same time, we can completely dismiss certain hazards, assuming our child would never be affected. This is especially true of one particular kind of accident.
Have you ever wondered if your actions can really make a difference? Last summer in Houston, Jason Nordman was walking in the parking lot outside an office building and spotted a baby crying in a car seat alone in a car. The windows were cracked a few inches and the doors were locked.
As a technical advisor at Safe Kids Worldwide, where I work closely with families to help keep kids safe in and around cars, I dread hearing my work cell phone when it dings in the middle of the night or on a weekend. Unfortunately, that “ding” is often an e-mail telling me that yet another child has died because of heatstroke.
The alarm to parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a car sounded louder last week after three more children died of heatstroke in cars. As summer temperatures reach record highs across the country, these preventable tragedies remind us to be even more vigilant to prevent heatstroke from killing another child.