Officer Shannon Sampson says a five-month old baby was found alone inside a locked car last week. “I guess the parent thought that instead of waking the baby heard the baby crying and then saw the baby sweating. And that’s when they called 911,” Sampson says the baby ended up being okay, but it could have been deadly situation.
“It was just a kind of good time to remind everybody that as the weather is warming up, a 75 to 80 degree day may not seem like that hot to somebody — but when you leave kids and babies inside a vehicle — the inside of vehicles do warm up very fast,” according to Sampson. She says a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body.
“And even cracking a window won’t make a difference, so that’s why we don’t ever want any children left inside vehicles,” Sampson says. She says it may seem easier to leave the kids in the car, but the potential for problems is too great.
“Even if they think they are just going to run inside a gas station or store of a minute, one minute might turn into five minutes, ten minutes, and then before you know it it is too late,” Sampson says. “So, always take the children out of the vehicle and in with you.” Another issue happens when the routine changes and the parent who normally doesn’t drop the kid off may forget about them in the car. Sampson officers advice to prevent that from becoming a tragedy.
She says put some reminders in the back seat like your cellphone or planner that you need for work, so you have to open up the back door and remember the baby is there. Sampson says children that are a little older and more mobile can be in danger too if they play in a car.
“We also want parents to teach children from a young age that vehicles aren’t playgrounds. So they should never let their kids play inside or around or underneath, or behind vehicles because a lot of bad things can happen that way too,” Sampson explains. “And there are situations where a child might climb in and then get locked in and not know how to get out — and again if it is a 70 to 75-degree day — that vehicle is going to heat up very fast.” Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. Sampson says you should act if you see a child left alone in a car.
“If anyone would see a child in a vehicle, they don’t know how long that child has been locked in. We want them to call 911 immediately,” Sampson says. The parent in the recent case in Cedar Rapids, 28-year-old Weston Shetterly of Marion was charged with child endangerment.