How many stories have you heard year upon year about parents leaving their children in the car? Some children are found when it is too late to save them, and in some cases, passers-by do not know if they could do anything to help. Here's all you should know about kids and cars in the summer heat.
How Are Kids Harmed in the Car?
While the temperature outside might not be unbearable, the temperature inside a car without the engine running and AC on will quickly rise. During the summer, it is not safe for children – or adults – to be left in a car. Most children left in vehicles suffer heat stroke, as their little bodies can't cope.
Kidsandcars.org states that since 1998, 37 children die every year due to heat stroke. Between 1990 and 2015, 755 children have died. More than 50% of those cases are of children under two years old, with 52% accidentally left in the vehicle.
Can You Leave Kids in the Car?
The answer to this question depends on the state. Only 19 out of 50 states make it illegal to leave kids in the car unattended. There may be exceptions and police will need to deem if parents leaving children in the car has posed a threat. For example, Michigan law specifically states that a child cannot be left alone for a prolonged period of time that poses a threat.
While it may not be specifically illegal to leave kids in the car, it could be considered negligent. Forgetfulness is one of the most commonly given reasons for children being left in the car. The best thing you can do is give yourself an additional reason to go to the backseat of your vehicle. With automatic-drive cars, leaving the left shoe on the backseat is one method shared by many parents on social media. Some parents also suggest leaving your phone, purse, or wallet in the backseat as well.
Can You Break Into a Car?
If you see a child left alone in the car, what options do you have? While you know you need to seek help, such as store security or a phone call to the police, you may want to do something instantly. Can you break into the car to save the child?
In many states, you're not allowed to do anything. It would be classed as damage to the property and you could find yourself arrested. There are some states where it is legal to break into a vehicle – whether you are saving a child or some other living creature. If you are unaware of state laws regarding this issue, it is up to you to decide whether or not helping the child is worth the legal risk.
Know the facts when it comes to children in cars in the summer heat. It will quickly get hot in your car, whether it is in a parking lot in the shade or in your garage.