Do not leave children or pets unattended in hot vehicles – “Park, Look and Lock.”
That is the public service announcement, the Burlington County Health Department and Sheriff’s Department wants to put forth as summer temperatures rise in efforts to prevent tragedies.
“Heat-related injuries and deaths are entirely preventable, but still occur because people assume it won’t happen to them or their family,” Burlington County Undersheriff Jim Kostoplis said in a county press release on June 27. “We need everyone to be aware of the danger and take the steps needed to ensure no child or pet is endangered. That means immediately calling 911 if you ever see a child or pet left alone in a hot car.”
Kostoplis said people can place notes or visual cues – like a toy – in the front passenger seat; make it routine or habit to check the back seat when parking or place important items like a purse, briefcase or lunch in the backseat; keep vehicles locked at all times and never leave keys within the reach of children; ask a childcare provider to call right away if child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
“These are simple actions that can help prevent heat-related tragedies involving precious loved ones,” he said. “We all have a lot going on in our lives and it’s easy to get distracted. That’s why it’s important to remind residents about the potential dangers and how to prevent tragedies from occurring. Always remember to ‘Park, Look and Lock’ when leaving your car.”
The nonprofit safety group, Kids and Car Safety, reports that more than 1,000 children have died in hot cars since 1990. Thousands more have suffered injuries inside hot vehicles, according to the press release.
The group says the majority of the deaths were the result of a child being forgotten and left inside a vehicle unattended. About a quarter of the cases involved children who got into the car on their own and became trapped. Only about 20% involve cases where a child was knowingly left in a vehicle, according to the press release.
Safety advocates warn that children are more susceptible to heat-stroke and other related injuries and illnesses because their body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult’s body. Death can occur in a matter of minutes, and temperatures in vehicles can rise extremely fast.
Animals can also sustain brain damage or die from heatstroke within 15 minutes, according to the press release.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Transportation warn that temperatures in a car can rise to 114 degrees in 30 minutes during an 80-degree day,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department. “That’s dangerous for any child or pet, so it’s important to remember to bring them with you when you exit a car, no matter how short a time period.”