PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – With temperatures on the rise, authorities are reminding the public about the dangers of leaving their children or pets in hot cars.
According to Injury Facts, an average of 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. In 2020, 24 children were reported dead after being left in a hot car. Already 2021 one child has been reported dead.
Lieutenant Cayla Heeger of Phenix City Police Department said it’s not unusual to get calls about children or pets left in a hot car.
“We do get those calls, we do respond. A lot of times we’ll send EMS or an ambulance, fire fighters with them just to check on the welfare of them, especially if it’s a child. We do come, we check on them to make sure everything is okay. So it’s not abnormal to get calls like that, especially in the summer time,” Heeger said.
Once authorities respond to the incident they must conduct an investigation to determine how long the child or pet was left in the car and if there are any injuries. According to Parents.com roughly 13 percent of children were left in the car on purpose and 56 percent of children were left in the car by accident.
“I’m a parent myself. This has never happened to me. Tips for kind of trying to avoid that is always, every time you get out of your car check that back seat. Look behind you each time, even before you turn that engine off check on pets in the back seat, kids or even passengers,” Heeger said.
News 3 asked Heeger if bystanders should break out car windows to help save a child or pet from a hot car.
“Get help in route, that should be the first thing you do. I can’t tell everyone what to do. If it’s a situation where it’s really hot outside and it looks like somebody is passed out in the vehicle, it may be time to do that. The best thing you can do is pick up that phone and call 911 and get a first responder in route,” Heeger said.
If you plan on leaving your pet in the car to run a quick errand, Heeger wants the community to keep in mind the interior temperature of a car is always 10-50 degrees hotter. According to Car and Driver, if you own a Tesla you can set your car to dog mode. Dog mode leaves the cars air conditioning on and a message icon will appear saying, “My owner will be back soon. Don’t worry! The heater [or A/C] is on and it’s XX degrees.”
“If the windows are cracked, sure there is some air. Maybe they can breathe a little bit but you don’t want to leave any pet or person in that car too long because it is extreme heat. If you do see a pet in there it is okay to pick up the phone and call 911,” Heeger said.