HAWLEY - National Heat Stroke Prevention Day was set for July 31, but the dangers of leaving a child or pet in hot car resonates all through the dog days of summer. The topic, posted on The News Eagle’s Facebook page ahead of this article, generated heated, passionate response to the very notion.

HAWLEY - National Heat Stroke Prevention Day was set for July 31, but the dangers of leaving a child or pet in hot car resonates all through the dog days of summer. The topic, posted on The News Eagle’s Facebook page ahead of this article, generated heated, passionate response to the very notion.
“NEVER... Both child and pets or family,” Kimmie Oriani Alvarez Kemery said. “And it sickens me to hear these stories. Also when I hear to leave something important in the back seat to remind you like your child is not the most important thing.”
Tracy Fox, representing the [PA] Highway Safety Network, shared in a press release, “It’s unimaginable, but it happens – a child is left in a hot car and dies because of heat stroke. It can happen to anyone. Busy schedules, changes in a routine, a rear facing car seat looks the same with or without the baby in it, children or babies fall asleep and become quiet passengers. These are just a few examples of how it can happen. So, please don’t think it can’t happen to you.”

52 died last year

She noted that in 2019 the United States had the highest number of fatalities in one year, with 52 children dying after being left in hot cars (the national average is 38). The children ranged in age from one month to 11 years old. As of July 21, 2019, 21 children have died already this year.
Records kept by Kidsandcars.org indicates that in Pennsylvania, since 1987 there have been 13 children who have died from being left in a hot vehicle. There have not been any of these occurrences in Wayne nor Pike Counties.
The last such incident in Pennsylvania occurred July 22, 2016 in Williamsport, Lycoming County.
Fox outlined how quickly this can happen.
A child’s body will overheat 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body. The normal adult body temperature is 98.6 degrees. At 108 degrees, death can occur. Here’s an example: On a 70-degree, sunny day, a car can heat up to 104 degrees in 30 minutes. At one hour, that temperature can reach 113 degrees.
“Leaving the windows cracked open at the top does not slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature,” Fox said.

Local reaction

The News Eagle asked on Facebook if anyone had ever left a child in a hot, locked vehicle. Numerous people responded with creative ways of expressing, “NO.” Just a few of the 28 comments are repeated here.
“Absolutely not, never ever!! This is incomprehensible to me!,” said Lauren Steinbacker Lockwood.
“I never forgot, even on my most sleep deprived days,” said Jenna Wayne Mauder.
“No, I don't even put them in the car until the air is on for a couple minutes,” Priscilla Jones stated.
“Noooooo!!,” Linda Coutts Calabro emphasized.
In one case, however, the family dog locked a man’s child inside the truck.
Robert Roughsedge responded, “Never. Children are a gift from God. My dog locked my daughter in the truck one day when she was little. Had to break in. Fortunately my truck was broken into in New Rochelle, NY a few weeks earlier so I knew how to get it open. Worst five minutes of my life.”
He said that the dog had jumped on the armrest to look out and stepped on the lock button.
In another case, Dana Porteous shared, “… My daughter did get locked in the car while I was pumping gas and the keys were in it. Luckily the window was partially open and I was able to poke the power lock button down with a metal dowel.”

State law

Pennsylvania state law on leaving an unattended child in a motor vehicle states: “A person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle may not permit a child under six years of age to remain unattended in the vehicle when the motor vehicle is out of the person’s sight and under circumstances which endanger the health, safety or welfare of the child.
This includes on highways and traffic-ways and for the purposes of this section only, the term “traffic-ways” shall include but not be limited to parking lots.” Violations of this section are considered a summary offense and it is a separate offense for each child left unattended. If a child should die after being left unattended in a vehicle, criminal charges could also be filed.
Trooper Brent Miller, PA State Police offered direction at the Twitter account #AskTrooperBrent, what to do if a child is unattended in a vehicle and in distress. On July 15, a new law went into effect for good samaritans in Pennsylvania. The person is protected from liability from damages done to a vehicle if rescuing a child in need of immediate attention. They must first attempt to contact the vehicle owner; contact emergency responders (911). They then must not use more force than is necessary to enter the vehicle. They must remain at the scene until emergency responders arrive.
Trooper Miller reminded that parents or caregivers could potentially face criminal charges if they intentionally leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

How to a avoid this

[PA] Highway Safety Network suggests the following ways you can do to help avoid another tragedy:
• Put something in the back seat that you will need when you get to your destination, such as a purse, briefcase, laptop or work ID.
• Make it a habit to always open the back door to be sure no one is left behind.
• Plan with the day care or caretaker that if the child doesn’t arrive by a certain time that they call you right away.
• Always make sure to keep your vehicle locked to keep kids from climbing into an unattended vehicle.
• Should your child get stuck inside a locked vehicle, teach them to honk the horn to get someone’s attention.
• If a child goes missing, immediately check the insides and trunks of all the vehicles in the area.
• Try to use drive-thru services for banks, pharmacies, etc. and pay at the pump for gas.
• If you are not the parent that usually transports the child, place a note on the dash to remind you that you have your child. Set up a plan that the other parent calls to verify the child was dropped off.
• If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately. If they appear in distress, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Children are our most precious cargo, so help prevent another tragedy…please, LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!
Questions or comments can be emailed to tfox@hsnetwork.org.

Pets left in a parked car

The Humane Society states that leaving pets in cars is never safe, but when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly. “High temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage and even death. Protecting animals from an unnecessary death is a problem we can all agree to prevent,” the Society states on their website. The Humane Society also lists various ways to help if you see an animal left in a hot car, at www.humanesociety.org. Among them are:
• Take down the car's make, model and license plate number.
• If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car's owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
• If the owner can't be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive. In several states, good Samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.

[Editor’s Note: The information from [PA] Highway Safety Network was found in the latest email newsletter from Rep. Rosemary Brown (Monroe-Pike).]