New Program Distributing Free ‘Baby in the Back’ Car Hangtags to Help Prevent Heat-Related Child Deaths

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(L to R) Tennessee Highway Patrol Captain Travis Plotzer, Tennessee Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Dr. Tobi Adeyeye Amosun, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Tennessee Highway Safety Office Director Buddy Lewis

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the Department of Health and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced a statewide partnership to distribute free Baby in the Back hangtags to help prevent heat-related child deaths in cars.

“The safety and wellbeing of our youngest Tennesseans is important to our office,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “That’s why we created our Baby in the Back hangtag program, to make a difference in our children’s lives by helping prevent these tragic deaths. We appreciate the Department of Health and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security for working with us to help protect some of our most vulnerable Tennesseans.”

On average, every ten days, a child dies from heatstroke in a car, and in more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the vehicle. In Tennessee, it is illegal to leave a young child unattended in a car.

“On a hot summer day, the temperature inside a vehicle can climb up to 140 degrees in a short period of time, which can cause a child to get overheated and result in serious medical issues or even death,’’ said Tobi Adeyeye Amosun, MD, FAAP, Tennessee Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Population Health. ‘’Something to help remind you that a child is in your car, like the Baby in the Back hangtag, could help to prevent a tragic situation from happening.”

In June, the Department of Health began distributing Baby in the Back hangtags through regional Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinics. Clients of Tennessee WIC clinics and Metro Health Departments can receive a free hangtag by request.

“These hangtags will serve as a visible reminder that a child, the most precious cargo we can transport, is sitting innocently in the vehicle,” said Tennessee Highway Safety Office Director Buddy Lewis. “It is our hope that the hangtags prevent a tragic heat-related injury or death from occurring. Children are our future. We owe it to them to be their voice and protection.”

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security also started distributing Baby in the Back hangtags through the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Highway Safety Office and Driver Services this month. Tennesseans can request hangtags for free while updating or getting a new driver’s license.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office created Baby in the Back hangtags to serve as a visual reminder for drivers to check their backseat for children before leaving a parked car.

Since Secretary Hargett’s office launched the Baby in the Back hangtag program in 2020, nearly half a million hangtags have been provided to partners to share with parents and caregivers of children statewide.

To request free Baby in the Back hangtags, visit sos.tn.gov/requesthangtags.

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