With summer and hot temperatures on their way, Dayton police is reminding people of the dangers of hot cars and urging people to not leave children, the elderly or pets in vehicles.
“If it’s 80 degrees outside it takes about 10 minutes for the inside of a car to turn to 100 degrees,” said Dayton police Sgt. Gordon Cairns. “Within an hour the inside of a car is going to be about 123 degrees.”
Children in particular are at risk of suffering heat-related injuries when left in vehicles because their bodies warm up about three to five times faster than adults, he added.
In both 2018 and 2019 the National Safety Council reported that 53 kids died in hot cars. That number dropped to 24 in 2020, Cairns said, which may have been a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The three primary causes of children in hot cars are people forgetting the child is in the car, children getting access to the car and people knowingly leaving a child in the car.
“Don’t leave the car running and run into the store or the gas station real quick,” Cairns said. “We’ve had instances here in the city where people have done that and cars have been stolen.”
If a vehicle is left running, some kids may accidentally put it into drive or neutral, causing the vehicle to roll away and possibly crash.
Cairns also advised leaving vehicles locked even while sitting unused in the driveway. Kids may get into an unlocked vehicle and play, accidentally locking themselves inside.
To avoid forgetting a child in a vehicle, the National Safety Council recommends leaving something important in the back seat, Cairns said.
Putting a cell phone, purse or even a shoe in a back seat can help people to force people to check before getting out of the car and continuing on with their day.
If someone sees a child alone in a car the person should first consider the kid’s state.
“If the child is alert and responsive we recommend to just stand by with the child and maybe just send someone else to get help and to find the owner of the vehicle,” Cairns said.
While waiting for the owner to come back, call the police and let them know there is a child in a vehicle.
However, if a child is distressed, passed out or suffering from a heat-related injury, immediately call 911, Cairns said.
“The second thing is get that child out of the car,” he said. “If you have to break a window to do that, than so be it. The child’s safety is obviously the highest priority.”
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