Heat and automobiles: A dangerous combination for children

By Ryne Turke on June 18 at 7:23am

With West Central Illinois in the middle of a hot temperature swing, parents should remember to check the back seat before exiting their cars.

Illinois is one of several states with a law that prohibits leaving young children unattended in a hot vehicle.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, heat is the deadliest weather phenomenon that impacts the United States.

Each year an average of 117 people die from heat related illnesses and 33 percent of those deaths are due to young children being left in enclosed vehicles.

Jacksonville Police Department’s Deputy Chief Tim Shea says leaving a child unattended in a vehicle in the heat is extremely dangerous.

“You know we have seen it before where people leave a kid in the car and run in just for a second and roll the windows up,” says Shea.

“The temperature rises extremely fast in cars. I’m not sure people realize that, but it certainly causes a huge danger for the child left in the car.”

In the past 15 years more than 560 children have died from heat stroke after being left in cars or after gaining access to unattended cars.

Shea says Jacksonville Police officers receive calls every year about children being left in vehicles.

“When we get there we generally track down the parents or open the doors as fast as we can,” says Shea.

“If the child is in any danger we will go in and open the doors. It is extremely dangerous and we encourage our parents never to do that.”

Cracking a window has little effect in “cooling’ the inside of a vehicle as temperatures can rise quickly regardless. On average a car will heat up 20 degrees in a matter of ten minutes. After an hour a car’s temperature can rise up to 43 degrees.

If you see a child in a car alone call 911 or the Jacksonville Police Department at 479-4630.