Kids should never be left alone in a car for even one minute

To the Editor:

Each summer too many children lose their lives because parents and caretakers make the unwise decision to leave children alone in a car. Or, those people get so caught up in other things, the child is actually forgotten and left for hours inside of a hot vehicle.

A joint study by the National SAFE Kids Campaign and General Motors found that the inside temperature of a car parked in the hot sun can reach deadly heights within a short time. The study found the temperature inside a van reached 120 degrees within 30 minutes, although the outside air was just 70 degrees. Think about how you feel when you first get in your vehicle on a warm or hot day. The windows have been up and there’s a sort of smothering feeling, a feeling of not being able to breathe as well as you’d like. But once the AC kicks in, everything is fine.


Now, imagine the AC doesn’t work. The windows are broken and can’t be rolled down. In fact, the doors won’t open and you are trapped. Your body temperature rises minute by minute. You scream for help but none arrives. You panic as it becomes increasingly difficult to get air into your lungs. After awhile, you can hardly breathe. Sweat pours from your skin. Your body temperature continues to rise as hot air fills your lungs.

The lungs of a child are small and don’t survive long in the conditions just described. And you can bet that child will use up every ounce of air in those tiny lungs screaming to be rescued — a rescue that won’t come. The death that will finally occur is a welcomed relief from the horrible agony that child has experienced while waiting for someone to remember he is alone in the car, too small to save himself.

Imagine being the one to finally discover the child. Is that an image anyone wants to live with?

According to the website at

• Children should never be left alone in a vehicle, not even to run a quick errand.

• Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage and driveway.

• Keys should never be left within the reach or sight of children.

• Teach children never to play in or around a vehicle.

• Check that all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked. Don’t overlook sleeping infants.

Lisa Pardi, Summit County’s SAFE Kids coordinator, said, “young children, the elderly and pets are vulnerable because their bodies are ill-equipped to fight off the heat and resulting dehydration.”

So please, don’t leave a child in a car alone for even one second. What may seem like a few minutes of unburdened time may end up costing you a lifetime of guilt and grief. Of course, that’s a small price compared to what the child pays — his life.

—Ronna Austin

OCCC Employee

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