The temperature inside the shiny black sport utility vehicle at FedEx Field in Landover was 150 degrees, and even though it was just a demonstration, the small children looked frightened as a General Motors official opened the door and asked each child to feel inside a vehicle that could be a death trap.
“If you ever see a child in an unattended vehicle by themselves, get an adult to call 911,” the GM official said.
In another part of the FedEx Field parking lot on Tuesday, children were putting on life jackets, being fitted for bike helmets and watching other safety demonstrations during Summer Safety Fun Day, an event sponsored by Links Inc., the General Motors Foundation and Target on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“Last year 44 children died of heat stroke in a car,” said Kate Carr, president and chief executive of Safe Kids Worldwide. “In the United States from the last year we have data that almost 8,500 kids from birth to the age of 19 died from preventable injuries: car crashes, drowning, burns and poisoning.”
More than 500 children took part in the event that also included a large contingent of firefighters, police officers and emergency equipment.
“We want kids to be safe this summer,” said Margot James Copeland, national president of Links Inc. Copeland was there along with other members of the organization, which has been holding its National Assembly at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor this week. The Links, Incorporated is a volunteer service organization comprised of more than 12,000 professional women in 281 chapters across 41 states, the District and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It was founded by a “Circle of Nine Friends,” in Philadelphia 65 years ago.
“We want [children] to have a lot of fun on their bikes riding safely,” Copeland said. “If they are in a car seat, we want them strapped in. We want our kids to have a happy and healthy summer, and these are the steps that we are taking to make that happen.”
In addition to public safety voter participation an the upcoming elections has been on the mind of the Links members this week. Copeland said: “Just because an African American is in the White House” doesn’t mean that our work should stop, she said. “We are voting locally, statewide, and we need to take our voices from the State capital to Capital Hill.”