This appeared in the Idaho Press-Tribune:
The official first day of summer is still a couple of weeks away, but already we have had a child in our community die because she was left in a hot car. Last week, a Parma man was arrested when police say he left a child in a car while he went into a bar to drink and shoot pool.
Keep in mind that this all happened before June, in a part of the country that regularly gets temperatures into the 100s in the summer. If this is a harbinger, we are in for a long, tragic, painful summer.
What can we do? Yes, we can tell people, “Don’t leave your kids in a hot car.” Will that do any good? Will a negligent person read this editorial and say, “That’s good advice. I won’t do that any more”? It’s doubtful.
So we ask our readers to be the eyes and ears of the community. Keep an eye out for someone leaving a child in a hot car. If you see something, say something. Call the police immediately. Call 911 and report it. No one wants to read about another dead child.
To our police officers, we support you in your efforts not only to save children left in hot cars, we fully support arresting and charging those who perpetrate these crimes.
And to our judges, we support and expect you to levy appropriate sentences to those who leave children in hot cars.
We don’t support people leaving their children in a car with the car running and the air conditioning running. What if the car stalls? What if the air conditioning breaks? What if the child gets at the controls, puts the car in gear or turns the AC off? What if the car gets stolen? There are just too many bad outcomes. Plus, it’s just a bad habit to get into.
Researchers determined that even on a sunny day with an outside temperature of 72 degrees, the interior of a car can reach 117 degrees in an hour, according to a 2005 study published in Pediatrics. Eighty percent of that heat came in the first 30 minutes. The study found that on average, temperatures inside the vehicle increased 19 degrees in the first 10 minutes and 34 degrees in 30 minutes. The study also found that cracking the windows made little difference in the rising temperatures.
Children’s bodies overheat three to five times faster than an adult body, according to kidsandcars.org. Children died when their body temperatures reach 107 degrees, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
An average of 37 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles, according to kidsandcars.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths to children around vehicles. So far this year, six children have died in hot cars nationwide, according to the organization.
Let’s all do what we can to keep the Treasure Valley out of that statistic for the rest of the summer.