Niles State Police Warn of Child Endangerment When Left in Parked Cars

With more summer-like temperatures headed into the 70's and 80's for the rest of the week and into the weekend ahead around Michigan's Great Southwest, authorities with the Niles State Police Post are urging everyone to protect children, pets and others from being left behind in parked cars on extreme temperature days.

Police tell us that in 2013, nationwide, 44 children died from heatstroke after being accidentally left in a parked vehicle, including three deaths right here in Michigan. Even in more mild temperatures outside, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children according to Safe Kids Worldwide. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. To prevent this tragedy, parents and caregivers are reminded to A-C-T:

  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call and they are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

State Police Trooper Holly Higgs from the Niles Post warns, “A hot car can be deadly,” and cautions, “Always be sure to look twice before getting out, it’s easier than you think to forget a baby in the backseat.”

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Take steps to remember not to leave a child in vehicle:

  • Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the vehicle.
  • Place your bag, briefcase or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll see a child left in the vehicle.
  • Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she leaves the vehicle.
  • Ask your child care center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time for child care.
  • If you are dropping your child off at child care, and it’s normally your spouse, partner or caregiver who drops them off, have them call you to make sure the drop off went according to plan.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly (not in an ice bath, but by spraying them with cool water).

For more information and safety tips about preventing child heatstroke deaths, visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke.