KGUN 9News


Nine children died in hot cars already in 2016

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jun 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 22:11:54-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - An average of 37 kids die in hot cars each year in the United States. Already in 2016, nine kids have already died after being left in a hot car. 

None of those cases have been in Arizona yet this year, but as we reached into triple digits, it's an important reminder to parents and caregivers.

There are a number of ways suggested to remember your child is in the back seat.

Some say to put your purse, wallet or cell phone on the back seat so when you go to grab it you will remember all of your precious belongings. Another suggestion is to put a brightly-colored sticky note on the dashboard or driver's side window.

"If you have a child and they have a baby blanket, take that baby blanket and put that in your lap," said Captain Barrett Baker with the Tucson Fire Department. "That's part of your routine now and when you get to the destination that you're at, you cannot physically get out of your vehicle without having that reminder right in your lap."

The temperature inside a car can rise 18 degrees in just ten minutes, according to Baker. He said cracking the windows does not help at all.

"There's never an appropriate amount of time to leave a child in a car. You might think it's going to be two minutes, but if two minutes turns into ten minutes, then the car behind us is going to be an oven and that is a death sentence for a child," said Baker.

Kids have a much harder time regulating their inner body temperature. Cells can be damaged and internal organs shut down when core body temperature reaches 107 degrees. 

"If you see a child in a car and they're in distress, then the right thing to do is get them out of that vehicle. Call 911 as quickly as possible because we will be able to medically assess them, but getting the child out of that environment is so critical, so break the window, try to open the door first, get that child out," said Baker.

There are no laws that specifically protect someone who breaks a car window to save a child's life, but Ryan Inglett with the Pima County Sheriff's Department said if it was reasonable to believe the child was in danger, you will likely not be charged.

Arizona is one of 30 states that does not have a specific law against leaving a child in a car, but Inglett said parents can still be charged with endangerment, abuse, and neglect among other charges.