AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Temperatures continue to rise and many dangers come along with that, including children being left in hot cars.
Across America, more than 900 kids have died from being in hot cars since 1998. Nearly 80 percent of those cases were accidental, meaning they absolutely could have been avoided.
Sometimes, it’s because new parents are sleep deprived and that can cause them to forget the child – especially if the child is quiet and rear facing. Or it can happen if there’s a change in routine– like dad dropping the baby off at daycare instead of mom.
And sometimes parents leave kids in the vehicle with windows cracked to go inside a store, thinking it’ll just be for 10 minutes. But, vehicle temperatures can rise nearly 20 degrees in just a matter of minutes.
Renee McCabe is the Program Safety Manager at AU Health. She explained a child’s body heats and cools four times faster than an adult’s– so heat stroke and death can happen very quickly. But it’s not always negligence on the parents end that causes a tragedy to happen.
“The second leading cause, besides people forgetting, is that children that are older, you know 2, 3, 4, they’re very curious and they like to play and a lot of times they like to climb into a car. So, it’s so important to keep your doors locked, even just for security reasons obviously,” McCabe said.
McCabe cautions parents and people walking by to be vigilant- it could save a child’s life.
“Even if you don’t have children, if you’re walking through a parking lot, you’re out shopping, just be very vigilant and look and if you see a child in a car, take action,” she instructed. “Call 911. We work with the police all the time and they want you to call. Don’t be afraid to do it.”
Here’s what the law says in Georgia and South Carolina. Both states have a Good Samaritan law that protects a person giving emergency aid to someone in a car from being sued for damages.
So, if you come across a child in a hot car, check the door handles first to see if it is unlocked before breaking a window. Then, immediately call 911 once you get the child out of the car.
Some tips to help you remember your child – put your purse, laptop, or something you need when you get to your destination in the backseat. Or put a mirror up so you can see your child in the rearview.
Another great option is to have your daycare call you if you haven’t dropped your child off by a certain time.
Also, put a stuffed animal or the diaper bag in the front seat so you see it before you get out of the car. Make it a habit to always check the front and back seats, including opening the back door, before you lock your vehicle and walk away. And, avoid talking on the phone. It can distract you and increase the odds of forgetting your child.