Temperatures are on the rise this week and Lexington Emergency Management warns parents not to leave a child alone in a hot car. It may seem like common sense, but every year law enforcement agencies answer calls about unattended children in vehicles. The National Safety Council reports that 43 children died in the U.S. during 2017 from vehicular heat stroke.
In general, parents and guardians believe that they could never ‘forget’ their child in a vehicle.
According to Kentucky State Police, the most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them. KSP says the interior of a car heats up very quickly and temperatures inside can reach 125 degrees in minutes.
A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than that of an adult.
The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Together, this can be deadly in a very short period of time.
Another component to these tragic deaths is the genuine curiosity of a child. Far too often, a child will be outside playing and end up in a car, locking themselves inside of the vehicle.
A child will climb into a vehicle to play and is overcome with fear, becomes disoriented and is unable to get out. In extreme summer heat, a child can become incapacitated in a very short time.
KSP says about 33 percent of children who die in hot cars entered the vehicle on their own while left unattended.
In 2000, Kentucky passed “Bryan’s Law,” which makes a person liable for second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child younger than eight years of age in a motor vehicle where circumstances pose a grave risk of death. The law was named after 11-month old Bryan Puckett, who died July 13, 1999 after being left in a hot car by his babysitter.
KSP offers the following safety tips:
- Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies.
- Always lock your car. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver as a reminder.
- Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
- Make ‘look before you leave’ a routine whenever you get out of the car.
KSP asks citizens to keep an eye out for children left in vehicles on hot days and to call 911 if they think the occupant is in danger.
It’s important to remember that these warnings also pertain to the elderly and any pets. No one should be left in a car in hot weather – not even for a moment.
Source: Kentucky State Police