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Avoid a deadly decision: Don’t leave the helpless locked in cars

Woodstock takes a ride in the car seat until it’s owner gets strapped in.  When the baby is strapped in, Woodstock is moved to the front seat to remind the driver there is a baby in the back seat.  Photo by Christie Slocum

Woodstock takes a ride in the car seat until it’s owner gets strapped in. When the baby is strapped in, Woodstock is moved to the front seat to remind the driver there is a baby in the back seat. Photo by Christie Slocum

The summer heat is here in the lowcountry in full force. Heat related deaths and illnesses can be avoided by not leaving your children or pets locked in cars, not even for a minute. According to kidsandcars.org, an organization working to promote safety for children in and around vehicles, around thirty eight children die nationwide each year after being left alone in hot cars. So far this year, seventeen youngsters have passed away after being stuck inside of cars with the windows rolled. The temperatures inside of those vehicles soared way above what the outside temperature already was. In 2004, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study in which they discovered that on a hot summer’s day a car’s internal temperature can reach between 131 and 172 degrees Fahrenheit. On top of that, the body temperature of a child can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult and children age four and younger are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, which occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, stories of children being left alone in cars all over the country and even our state have been filling national news broadcast and newspapers. For whatever reason the driver of the vehicles all seem to have the same story to investigating police. They say they forgot they most prized possession was in the back seat. I know many of us live busy lives and our minds are in a thousand places, so kidsandcars.org have taken the time to offer ways to help caregivers to remind them that children are along for the ride. Some of the safety tips caregivers can follow are:

Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case on the floor board in the back seat

Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. This is known as the “Look Before you Lock” campaign

Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.

Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.

Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.

Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.

When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.

If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot, or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

We also do not need to forget that these hot summer months are also awful times to leave our four legged furry friends in the car. I know many people enjoy taking their pets for a ride in the car but please do not take them if you plan on stopping anywhere that you can’t take them in with you.

According to sources at the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department, there have not been any recent reports of this type of activity in our county. However, these are problems that every county faces. Depending on the situation, a person could be charged with Unlawful Conduct toward a child and the person responsible could be arrested and DSS could be contacted. As far as when an animal is concerned the responsible party could be charged with animal cruelty. I hope Colleton County continues to keep their loved ones out of the heat as the outcome of a poor decision could be deadly.

 

Christie Slocum (494 Posts)