Editorial: Kids can die in hot cars; check the back seat

Hot. It’s been hot many days of late. Take care to avoid tragedy.

Parents must be vigilant about protecting those they love. Pet owners, too. It’s that time of year — hot sun beating down — when drivers need to take extra care not to leave young children, or vulnerable pets, behind in cars.

Summer brings crazy weather — long days with extreme heat and humidity, thunderstorms, sudden drenching rains, then back to heat and humidity.

Think about how much exponentially hotter the inside of a car can be.

Responsible and loving parents may feel they’d never forget their child in the car. But it happens. It’s happened here. Several years back a child died tragically when left sleeping in an infant seat in a car parked in Ridgefield’s village on a hot day. The parent was operating out of the normal routine, was supposed to do the drop-off at child care normally done by the other partner, drove to work and just forgot. It was beyond heartbreaking.

It’s a different order of magnitude, but the concern applies to pets, as well.

According to HeatKills.org, a car that is 70 degrees inside can go up to 89 degrees in 10 minutes, and over 100 in 30 minutes. A car that is 94 degrees inside can go up to almost 130 degrees in 30 minutes.

Changes in routine, fatigue, the distraction of some work or family crisis, or a combination of factors can put the parent’s brain on automatic pilot and the child — in the back, asleep in a rear-facing car seat — can be forgotten. Even by a loving parent.

Never leave children in or around cars, not when just running in for one thing in the store, not even for a minute.

Kids can also find their way into cars. So keep empty cars locked, with keys and remote door-openers where kids can’t get them.

Develop the habit of looking in back before leaving a car.

When loading a car, put something — a cell phone, handbag, employee ID — in the back seat with the child.

Have firm predictable arrangements with childcare providers, and a pledge that if a child isn’t dropped off as expected, they will call.

When a child is missing, always check cars, including trunks, right away.

Don’t leave a pet in a hot car, either — even with the window cracked. It is so easy for humans to become distracted with whatever the important errand of the day is. Five minus turns into 45 minutes. The pet may be unharmed in the end, but try sitting in a hot, enclosed car during the summer for even 10 minutes. It can be torture.

Upon seeing a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call 911.