By Portia Williams
FRANKFORT, Ky. – As the Kentucky summer temperatures increase the Kentucky State Police headquarters out of Frankfort, Ky. want to remind parents not to leave a child alone in a hot car.
According to KSP, each year law enforcement agencies answer calls pertaining to unattended children in vehicles. KidsandCars.org reports that 32 children died in the U.S. during 2014 from vehicular heat stroke.
KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb, said vehicle heat stroke is often misunderstood by the general public. A majority of parents are misinformed and would like to believe that they could never ‘forget’ their child in a vehicle.
“The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them,” Webb said. “In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them.”
Webb advised that 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,”Webb said. “The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Together, this can be deadly in a very short period of time.”
Trooper Michael Murriell, public information officer for KSP Post 14 in Ashland, Ky, said people fail to realize the danger of leaving kids in vehicles in summer heat.
“We actually do not have any issues as far as getting any complaints to the Kentucky State Police in Ashland. We cover Boyd, Carter, Lawrence and Greenup counties, but it is an issue that is nationwide,” Murriell said. “We do have a lot of problems with people that, I am only going to be in somewhere for just a few minutes, it won’t get that hot. I don’t think that people understand and realize how hot it does get inside a vehicle with the windows up, and there is no air circulating.
Murriell said the safety of people and pets are paramount as it pertains to vehicles during heated temperatures.
“It does create great danger for anyone left in a car, and that can be a young child, an older adult, someone who is elderly as well, anyone with any kind of medical condition, or a pet,” Murriell said. “If you stay in a vehicle for any certain amount of time, it does create issues for your body, due to the extreme heat. We just want people to be very mindful with the weather that we are having, to pay extra attention and make sure you do not leave anyone, or any animals in vehicles. We want you to make sure that you are thinking about the safety of not only people, but your pets, and or any animals that you may have as well.”
According to KSP headquarters, 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.
Webb 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.
Webb says while a person will face criminal charges for leaving a child in a car, the pain and guilt from making such a mistake will last far longer.
KSP also requests that 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.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWIllPDT.