Leaving children unattended in cars is a death sentence

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When a person’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heatstroke occurs. If the core temperature reaches 107 degrees or higher, it is lethal. Cells are damaged and internal organs begin shutting down. A dark dashboard’s temperature ranges from 180 to 200 degrees, warming the air trapped in a vehicle. In 10 minutes, the temperature in an enclosed vehicle can raise 19 degrees. This upward trend steadily increases the temperature within an enclosed vehicle 45 to 50 degrees above outside temperatures.

When a person’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heatstroke occurs. If the core temperature reaches 107 degrees or higher, it is lethal. Cells are damaged and internal organs begin shutting down. A dark dashboard’s temperature ranges from 180 to 200 degrees, warming the air trapped in a vehicle. In 10 minutes, the temperature in an enclosed vehicle can raise 19 degrees. This upward trend steadily increases the temperature within an enclosed vehicle 45 to 50 degrees above outside temperatures.

Cracking windows has little to no effect and in children the rapid rise in body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult does. 

This is why we do not leave children unaccompanied in cars for even one minute. This year alone, at least 17 children died of heatstroke in enclosed vehicles in the U.S., and in 2013, there were 44. Since 1998, there are at least 623 documented cases of heatstroke deaths. Thirty-one percent of these children were less than 1-year-old and more than half of these deaths were children under the age of two. 

Heartland Fire & Rescue responded to a report on Thursday with 4-year-old and 9-month-old children left in the car in La Mesa. Locked inside and no adult was around. It was bystanders that saw this and talked the older child to unlock the car. The mother came out and stated that she had only been gone for five minutes. That is long enough, especially with our East County temperatures to have killed them, especially the infant. Paramedics released the children to their father after examination.

It baffles me to comprehend what a parent is thinking when this is done, and this is just one of several cases reported in our area over the past couple of months. And our summer heat has barely begun. Before long, we will see temperatures hitting the three digit marks, which means the mortality rate of leaving a young child in an enclosed car can happen within minutes.

The father of three, and grandfather of four, I realize just how difficult and cumbersome it can be taking your children in and out of the car when running short errands. There is absolutely no excuse for leaving them unaccompanied. It is not only child endangerment, but in my opinion, it falls under second and third degree murder and cannot be allowed.

California is one of the states with the Good Samaritan law, which protects the bystander from liability when acting in good faith. We all need to be as vigilant as the bystanders who saw these children in the car and took immediate action. They possibly saved these children’s lives. I find it difficult to believe with the people getting the children out of the car and first responders on the scene that this mother was only gone for five minutes.

It is not worth the risk leaving your children unattended in a vehicle at anytime, regardless of the weather. Not only do we have to worry about heatstroke, but children are abducted all the time for unpardonable reasons and with our proximity to the border, can be lost forever. A pro can steal a car in 10 seconds or less. It is sad to say, but a truth we must all face. Our children are too precious to allow such idiocy.

This mother, along with any parent, caregiver, and babysitter needs to be slapped by the law at the highest degree possible. There is no excuse in risking the life of a child.

And for those who are dense enough to practice this behavior, there are plenty of good Samaritans out there that will intervene when they see children (or pets) left in vehicles unattended. Stop the madness and senseless deaths of children by taking the time to take them out of the car, even if your errand is only a few minutes. 

Many care enough to intervene. Either way, through either death or intervention, an irresponsible parent will lose their children by acting foolish enough to leave them unattended in an enclosed vehicle.