5 safety tips to protect children from hot car deaths

15 children have died in hot cars around the country

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are some simple steps you can take to protect your child from a terrible mistake many parents make every year.

Fifteen children have died around the country in the last few months because they were left inside a hot car or were able to climb into a hot car and became trapped inside.

Cynthia Dennis with Safe Kids of Northeast Florida says few parents realize it is against the law to leave a child under the age of 6 inside a car alone in dangerous conditions. Our extreme summer heat is considered dangerous.

Dennis has suggestions for all parents and caregivers to prevent this kind of tragedy:

  • Leave your shoe, your purse, your cellphone, anything you have to have every day in the back seat next to your child's car seat so if you forget your child is there, you will see him or her when you retrieve it.
  • Call the person who was responsible for dropping off your child at day care or at the babysitter's house. Ask them via phone or even by text if they dropped off the baby.
  • Have a plan with your babysitter or day care that if they do not see your child by a certain time each day that the babysitter or day care will call you.
  • Set an alarm on your cellphone that goes off at the same time every day.
  • To prevent children from getting trapped inside a hot car, make sure to always lock the car doors.

While it may seem hard to believe that a parent or caregiver can forget their baby is in the back seat, Dennis says babies fall asleep in the car and often don't make any sounds. Babies who are in rear facing seats are not easily seen through a rear view mirror either.

Dennis says most accidental hot car deaths involve a change in routine for the parents. A parent who does not normally drop off their baby, but for some reason is given the task that day and forgets.

A local mother was arrested Sunday after police say she left her young daughter inside the car while she went shopping at Costco on the Southside.  The car was not running and the windows were cracked. A passerby alerted a manager at the store, who called police. The child is OK, but now her mother, Vivian Guo (pictured) is was arrested and charged with child neglect. She has since posted a $10,000 bond and was released from jail. [Full article]

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Vivian Guo
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Vivian Guo

Last May, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says a mother left her baby strapped into a car seat while she applied for a job. A police officer was getting ready to break the car window, when the mother came running out. According the police report, the mother told officers she did not have a babysitter and had left the child in the car. Police say the child was sweating and had been in the car for 20-30 minutes. The child is OK.

Keep in mind, at 104 degrees a child can start to develop organ damage and at 107 degrees the child can die.

"Cracking the windows doesn't help, the interior of a car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes," Dennis said.

News4Jax reporter Hailey Winslow demonstrated how fast it can get hot inside a car. With a medical team monitoring her, she sat inside a car with the windows up in the middle of the day. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the video showing how hot it got and how fast.

About the Author: