FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) – Kentucky State Police are asking people to keep an eye out for children left in hot cars as temperatures rise.
With the mercury levels on the rise this week, KSP is renewing its plea for parents to be extremely cautious about leaving children in hot cars. It may seem like common sense, but statistics show that these deaths are on the rise in the U.S.
According to the safety organization Kids and Cars*, 52 children died nationwide in 2018 of hyperthermia as a result of being left in a hot car. Three of those deaths occurred in Kentucky.
Since 1998, there have been 25 child-related vehicular heatstroke deaths in the Commonwealth. These include instances where a child has been forgotten in a car, accidentally locks themselves in a vehicle or, in a small number of cases, when a child has been intentionally left in a car.
KSP spokesman Sgt. Josh Lawson says vehicular heat stroke is often misunderstood by the general public. A majority of parents are misinformed and would like to believe that they could never ‘forget’ their child in a vehicle.
“The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them,” says Lawson. “In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them.”
Lawson offers the following safety tips:
- Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
- Make it a habit of opening the rear door of the car every time you park to ensure no one is left inside.
- To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without such as a purse, briefcase, employee badge, phone, etc.
- When at home, keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in the garage.
- Never leave keys within reach of children.
- If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area.
Lawson says while a person will face criminal charges for leaving a child in a car, the pain and guilt from making such a devastating mistake will last far longer.
KSP asks citizens to keep an eye out for children left in vehicles on hot days and to call 911 if they see an unaccompanied child in distress.