As it heats up outside, the temperature inside a motor vehicle rises much faster. Chief Thomas Perkins and the Wenham Police Department wish to remind families and caregivers to never leave a child, pet or anyone else in a hot car.
According to the non-profit KidsandCars.org, an average of 37 children die of heat stroke every year after being left alone in hot cars across the U.S. These are completely preventable tragedies. Each year, the Wenham Police Department responds to calls after children or pets are accidentally left in a car or when a passerby calls police after seeing a child or pet left inside a vehicle.
There is no safe amount of time to leave a child or pet in a vehicle that is turned off on a hot day. Temperatures can rise to unsafe levels in minutes.
“As public safety professionals, the health and safety of children is paramount for police officers,” Chief Perkins said. “Kids are more vulnerable to the effects of the heat, and young children — or those strapped into child safety seats — are unable to get themselves out of a car on their own. Please read and understand these warnings.”
Officials offer the following facts about children and hot cars:
- Children suffer from the effects of heat faster than adults.
- Nearly 90 percent of children killed in hot cars are under age 3.
- Cracking windows open does not make a difference.
The outside temperature does not always matter. According to KidsandCars.org, children have died in cars with outside temperatures as low as 60 degrees.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips:
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
If you see a child left in a car, take action immediately. Do not wait for the driver to return or assume that they will be back soon. If the child appears to be in distress, get them out of the car immediately and dial 911.
Pets should also not be left alone in hot cars. According to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pets suffer needlessly when left in hot cars, even on moderately warm days. Such actions can result not only in harm to your pet, but also fines and possible prison time for pet owners who leave their pets in a hot vehicle.