OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — June 8th is National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention & Awareness Day. As temperatures soar to near triple digits this week, it’s a good time to remind everyone to never leave a child alone in a car. Already in the metro there have been a number of police reports and calls for children left in hot cars.
Nationally, in 2015, 24 kids died in hot cars, the lowest number since 1998 when researchers started keeping data. This year, we’re already up to 10.
Hot cars are especially dangerous for children, since their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adults. At 104 degrees, organs begin to shut down. At 107, the child could die.
Sarpy/Cass Department of Health and Wellness Safe Kids Coordinator Rachel Dysico helped WOWT 6 News with an experiment. She placed a sensor in her car to see how hot it would get in ten minutes.
The sensor started at around 78 degrees at 9:50 a.m. By 10:02 a.m., it was up to 111 degrees and soaring.
“The pain that those parents are going to endure for the rest of their lives is truly heartbreaking,” Dysico said. “We’ve all had forgetful moments and to have a moment be of such impact is unthinkable.”
In many cases parents or caregivers leave children in the car to run into the store for a few minutes, or crack the windows for some relief. Dysico said studies show cracking a window doesn’t help ventilate that heat, and if you get sidetracked in the store at all that quick trip could turn deadly.
So to remember a child in the backseat, Safe Kids says you need to ACT.
A- avoid heatstroke. Never leave a child unattended in a car for any amount of time.
C- create a reminder. Place something in the backseat next to your child that is necessary at your end destination. Dysico suggests a purse, briefcase or cell phone. When you get out of the car, you’ll automatically look for that item, and see your child, too. She did warn that those items should be properly secured so they aren’t projectiles in an accident.
T- take action. If you see a child in a car call 911 immediately. Don’t hesitate or try to find the owner. Police will be there quickly and are trained to handle the situation.
While there have been many cases of people breaking out windows to save a child, it isn’t always the best option. Without training, glass could shatter toward the child.
Plus, while some states have laws protecting people who smash out windows, Nebraska does not have a specific law. You could be cited.
It’s also illegal to leave a child under the age of six alone in a car for any amount of time in any weather. The first hot car death of this year was in 52 degree weather when a child died after being in a car with the heater on for too long and sun beating down on the vehicle.
“It breaks my heart, because we’ve lost a child and the pain that those parents are going to endure for the rest of their lives is truly heartbreaking,” Dysico said.
Daybreak’s Jenna Jaynes wanted to see what it was like for a child to be unattended in a car for a half hour. At 2:30 p.m. on an 80 degree day, the car eventually soared to over 130 degrees before their thermometer stopped working.
To see the full experiment, watch the video above. Note: she was being monitored for safety the entire time. Do not attempt this on your own.
And for more information and statistics on hot car deaths, visit the websites provided.