Number Of Children Left In Hot Cars On The Rise

Friday, June 25th 2010, 3:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley & Terry Hood, The News On 6 

TULSA, OK -- The heat continues to rise in Green Country, putting children and the elderly at risk.

The heat index has climbed over a hundred degrees everyday for the past week and a half. The unusually high temperatures are magnified inside a closed car.

"In ten minutes a car can heat up 19 degrees," said Danial Karnes, AAA Oklahoma.

Researchers say the number of children being left inside a hot car is on the rise. Eight infants or toddlers have died across the nation since June 13th, the largest number in a decade.  Here in Oklahoma, a two-year old girl died after being left alone in a hot car in Lincoln County in May.

"Sometimes it's a matter of forgetfulness, a change of schedule," Karnes said. "They don't realize that they have that child with them."

"They're just defenseless, they can't help themselves," said Susan West, Safe Kids Tulsa. "They're just victims."

Susan West is a registered nurse. She says children face a number of challenges when dealing with the heat. Their body temperature heats up five times faster than an adult and their sweat glands aren't fully developed until they're at least six-months-old.

"They're heating up faster, they're dehydrating faster," West said.

The temperature inside a car can stay close to 30 degrees higher than outside the car. AAA says it's proof that leaving a child in a car can be deadly.

"Don't leave your child in a car at all," Karnes said. "It's just not worth it, the risks are way too high."

Karnes says the best way to help you to remember to bring your child inside is to leave your purse or handbag next to the car seat. He also reminds pet owners that it's just as dangerous for dogs to be left in a hot car as it is for children.

6/22/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Weather Coalition Keeping Residents Cool During Extreme Heat