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Look before you lock

From the Office of Sheriff R.A. Strickland, Colleton County Sheriff’s Office

Hot car incidents involving children are continuing to spike around the nation including right here in our home town. Last year six children from the state of South Carolina alone, died from being left unattended in a hot vehicle according to The State newspaper reports. South Carolina doesn’t have statewide rules specifically addressing the issue of leaving children unattended in a vehicle. However, deliberately endangering a child is against the law. South Carolina is among one of nineteen states who has the “Good Samaritan” law which protects citizens if they intervene, reasonably, in an emergency or life-threatening situation.
Although South Carolina experiences extreme temperatures the potential for heat strokes can occur in the shade, with the windows down, and even at temperatures as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside of a vehicle heats up FAST! Even with the windows cracked 80% of the increase in temperature occurs within the first ten minutes. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults, leaving them unattended in a hot vehicle increases their chances of having a vehicular heatstroke. Once a child’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit their major organs begin to shut down putting them at great risk of injuries or even death.
It’s crucial to remember children are curious, and could gain access inside a vehicle on their own if left unlocked, and not know how to get out. It’s is of the utmost importance for vehicles to remain locked at all times, ensuring that all vehicle fobs and keys are out of reach. I know most readers are asking themselves: How does this happen? Let this be a reminder to remain alert at all times, avoid distractions, and put safeguards in place so your child is never left in the backseat. There’s a simple solution to these preventable tragedies. Look before you lock! By creating simple habits to help keep your child safe we can continue to love and protect them as parents and caregivers. Together we can help prevent the unthinkable. Below are some helpful tips reminding you on how to ensure your child’s well-being:

  1. LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!
    Open the backdoor and look into the backseat to assure that everyone is out of the car (even if you think you are childless).
  2. KEEP SOMETHING YOU NEED IN THE BACKSEAT.
    Put your cell phone, briefcase, computer, lunch, employee badge or anything else essential to your daily routine beside your child.
  3. TRAVEL WITH A FURRY COMPANION.
    Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the baby is in the seat, the stuffed animal rides shotgun. The furry passenger serves as a reminder that the baby’s in the back.
  4. ALWAYS LOCK THE DOORS!
    Even if the car is in the garage, keep the doors locked to prevent curious children from getting into the vehicle.
  5. PUT THE KEYS AND FOBS AWAY.
    Children might want to play with the keys and be able to get into the car without the parents knowledge.
  6. HAVE A PLAN WITH THE CHILDCARE PROVIDER.
    If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate the child.
    TAKE ACTION IF YOU SEE A CHILD ALONE IN A VEHICLE:
    Protecting children is everyone’s business! If you see an unattended child in a vehicle and are concerned, you should immediately call 911.
    If the child is NOT responsive and in pain, immediately:
    • Call 911.
    • Get the child out of the vehicle.
    • Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath).
    If the child is responsive:
    • Call 911.
    • Stay with the child until help arrives.
    • Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: These columns are submitted by Colleton County Sheriff R. Andy Strickland and Walterboro Police Chief Wade Marvin. This newspaper is happy to bring to you, our residents and their citizens, thoughts on crime in our community. Though we believe it is our responsibility to share these opinions with you, please note that these thoughts are not necessarily a reflection of the collective opinion of this newspaper.

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