Health, law officials warn leaving children in hot vehicle

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — For the seventh year, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning along with Governor Brian Kemp is pushing a “Look Again” campaign that promotes preventing pediatric vehicular heatstroke.

41NBC spoke to local health experts about the dangers of leaving kids unattended in a heated car.

According to the Intensive Care Unit at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, there have been no reports of a child’s death due to a heat stroke in the last two years. However, they say it does happen.

“Everyone knows how quickly a car heats up especially if the windows are up even if the windows are down,” said Dr. Edward Clark, chair of the children’s hospital.

According to researchers from Stanford University, a car’s interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F° within an hour — regardless of the outside temperature.

Dr. Clark says if a child is left inside a high-temperature car, the results can be deadly.

“They can sweat profusely, their temperatures are going to rise, they’re going to get over-heated exhaustion, and then, of course, the last thing you want is heat stroke and they can die,” said Clark.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 there were close to 50 heatstroke deaths in the U.S. involving children and six similar deaths in 2019.

According to the same study, 54 percent of child deaths happen because someone forgets.

Dr. Clark says these deaths are usually accidents. He says a child can be left in the car as little as five minutes and can experience heat exhaustion.

Deputy Emmett Bivins with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office says parents should try their best to be mindful and check vehicles when exiting.

Bivins says guardians can be charged with misdemeanors, like child endangerment or even worse — a felony.

“There are certain charges that can be put against parents if you do not follow the law and they are deceased or die from it,” Bivins said.

The deputy says each incident is different, but to avoid penalties altogether, do not leave a child in a car at all.