Never leave children unattended in vehicle
Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:21 pm
NASHVILLE — As we approach the summer months, the Tennessee Department of Safety is reminding motorists that children and pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle.
“It is important to remember that children and pets can become ill from heat exhaustion when left in a hot car,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. “Motorists should never leave a child or animal unattended in a car, even with the windows down. Even if it’s just a few moments, it’s extremely dangerous.”
On a typical sunny, summer day, the temperature inside a car can reach potentially deadly levels within minutes. Experts say the damage can happen in as little as 10 minutes. Even on a mild day at 73 degrees outside, an SUV can heat up to 100 degrees in 10 minutes and to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes. At 90 degrees outside, the interior of a vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes.
“Cracking the window to let air in does little to protect children from the effects of heat buildup in a parked car,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Mike Walker said. “Not only could you suffer the loss of a loved one from leaving them in an unattended vehicle, you could face jail time and stiff penalties.”
Heat exhaustion can occur at temperatures above 90 degrees and heat stroke can occur when temperatures rise above 105 degrees. If not treated immediately, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. With respiratory systems that are still developing, children are particularly vulnerable to heat exhaustion.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a person can be charged with penalties ranging from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class A Felony for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.
Last year, nationwide, there were at least 42 deaths in the United States due to hyperthermia after being left inside hot cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s.
Make sure your child is safe this summer and always follow a few simple tips:
• Children should never be left alone in a vehicle, not even to run a quick errand.
• Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies.
• Children can set a vehicle in motion. Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
• If a child gets locked inside, call 911 and get him/her out as soon as possible.
• Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.
• Keys should never be left within reach or sight of children.
• If you see a child or animal unattended in a car, be proactive and call 911.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services is taking similar steps to protect children transported by child care providers.
To learn more, visit: http://www.tennessee.gov/humanserv/news/09/news-06-03-09.pdf and http://www.tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/cc_main.html.
Published in The Messenger 6.18.09