LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Monday, a 5-year-old boy died after he was left in a daycare van all day in eastern Arkansas.
Unfortunately, many other children have also died due to being in left in a hot car across the county. With hot summer months approaching, doctors and police are urging parents to learn about the risks associated with hot cars.
According to the Injury Prevention Center, nearly 700 children in the United States have died from heatstroke in hot cars over the last decade. These type of deaths are especially prevalent in southern states.
Mary Aitken, Professor of Pediatrics at UAMS, said the temperature in a car can increase very dramatically in just a couple of minutes.
In only 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can increase by nearly 20 degrees. Even on a relatively cool day with temperatures in the 60's or 70's a car can overheat very quickly. This is especially dangerous for kids because their body can overheat three to five times faster than adults.
If a child is left in a hot car, there can be horrible consequences in just a matter of minutes.
“It can lead to discomfort, agitation, unconsciousness and then death as their core temperature gets up above 104 degrees,” said Aitken.
It's something no parent thinks will happen to them, but it has happened to many parents including in Arkansas. Aitken said people from all different types of backgrounds have made the mistake of leaving a child in a hot car.
Aitken offered up a couple of easy ways you can prevent this from ever happening to you or your family. One easy way is to put something in the back seat next to your child that you have to have before leaving the car. Another thing you can do is put a sticker on the outside of the car that reads “look before you lock.” Coordinating with spouses and daycares to ensure your child has arrived at their destination is another key tool.
There are also legal consequences for anyone that leaves a child in a hot car. Lieutenant Steven McClanahan with the Little Rock Police Department said people have been charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide for leaving children in hot cars.
Even if the child doesn't die, you could be charged with endangering the welfare of a minor which is also a felony charge.
McClanahan said that if you see a child in a car who may be in danger, call 911 immediately and use discretion on whether or not to take further action to get the child out of the car.
“You will not face criminal charges for saving a kids life,” said McClanahan.
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