It goes without saying — a baby, a child, or an animal should never be locked inside a vehicle, especially on a hot summer day, but that rarely happens intentionally, just as was the case of a woman who accidentally locked her baby in a car in Portsmouth Thursday afternoon.
When the woman discovered the circumstances, she went for help and 911 was called. Within minutes, members of the Scioto County Probation Department, the Portsmouth Police Department and the Portsmouth Fire Department were on the scene and Scioto County Probation Officer Andy Rase broke the window glass.
“Kyle Porter heard it over the radio, so once everybody started talking about it in here, we all went over there,” Rase said. “We used an ASP-baton, which is a defensive weapon. Most of the deputies carry one too,” Rase said. “It’s a telescopic baton. It wasn’t just me. It was this whole office. I just happened to grab that on my way out.”
One of those who responded to the scene was Captain Chris Lowery of the Portsmouth Fire Department.
“Typically, as adults we can get ourselves out of a car unless there’s a mechanical issue,” Lowery said. “But in this case, kids are unable to defend themselves, unable to regulate their own body heat and in the future you have just got to be aware that when you get out, where your keys are.”
Lowery said the fire department unlocks a lot of cars for people, but – “it becomes an emergency when you know there’s a baby inside.”
What should people do if they come upon a car with a baby locked inside?
“They did exactly what they were supposed to do.” Lowery said. “Our response is no more than four minutes, but with that being said, bust that window – you’ve got to get them out because then they get into that heat stroke category and sometimes it gets so hot they can’t recover from it, especially infants.”
Lowery said there are window punches on the market, which people can buy and carry with them. The fire department has tools that pop the lock without breaking a window.
“We’re so good at it now we can get into any car in about 30 seconds,” Lowery said. “If there is a baby in the car and we can’t get into it in 30 seconds using our tools that are made for unlocking cars, we’re busting out the window also.”
KidsnCars.org says on average, 37 children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death.
Fire department employees worked with the woman and the baby to make sure no one was seriously ill.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.