On September 5th, 2022, a 3-year-old girl died of heat stroke after being stranded on a school bus for 5 hours at a kindergarten in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The bus driver was on vacation that day, and the kindergarten principal, who was in his 70s, drove the bus instead. The school neglected to check the number of people on the bus, resulting in this tragic outcome.

Japan often experiences extreme heat in the summer, with many people being hospitalized for heat stroke every year. Even in September, depending on the region and weather conditions, high temperatures can make it feel like mid-summer.

Young children left in vehicles with no air-conditioning is a very dangerous situation. Every year, hot car deaths are reported, and not only in Japan.

A parent shares life-saving advice

After the shocking incident in the Shizuoka kindergarten, many parents of young children have voiced their concerns online.

One of them was Japanese Twitter user こよみ Koyomi (@koyo_1213), who is raising a daughter in kindergarten.

She asked herself, "What can I do as a parent to protect my daughter?" After thinking about it, she decided to teach her daughter how to press the horn.

Reproduced with permission from こよみ Koyomi (@koyo_1213)

Pressing the horn will let others know that there are people in the car. If you press the horn repeatedly, it's more likely that someone will come and check the vehicle.

You may think "What's so hard about pressing the horn?" But depending on the vehicle, it can be quite difficult for a young child with limited strength to repeatedly press the horn.

So, Koyomi came up with the idea of using a water bottle. Children going to school in Japan almost always have an unbreakable water bottle like the one in the photo above.

According to Koyomi, if you press the water bottle against the horn and push it with your chest between your hands, you can push the horn with relatively little force.

Of course, this method can also be done with tools other than water bottles. If your hand seems to slip when pushing the water bottle, you may want to use something a little bigger.

Also, in the case of her daughter, who is 95 cm (3'1") tall, it seemed that she could push the horn without the water bottle if she sat on the steering wheel and put her weight on it.

The post went viral, with over 183,000 likes and 82,000 retweets at the time of writing. Many people agreed that this was a good idea, leaving comments such as:

  • "I think it is very important to teach these ideas to children so they can save themselves."
  • "I hope it will spread to many people! I hope there will be no more tragic incidents..."
  • "Great idea! Indeed, it's hard for small children to push the horn."

Until she heard about this incident, Koyomi had taught her daughter not to touch anything on the driver's side of a vehicle but now, the horn is an important exception to that rule.

She also told her daughter that pressing the horn was important in other situations such as when a parent collapses in the car or in the event of a disaster.

Unfortunately, a hot car death occurred at a nursery school in Fukuoka Prefecture in 2021.

In addition to measures the schools should take, there are measures that parents can take such as teaching their children life-saving strategies like these. If the public takes an interest and more people share such information, perhaps such needless deaths can be avoided.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.