Children Alone In A Car Dangers

Friday, July 14th 2006, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

In weather like this, children should never be alone in a car. But perhaps surprisingly it's not against the law, in all but extreme cases. Only when a child is hurt can authorities step in and some parents wonder if that ought to be changed.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says with this week’s high temperatures, a water park is a great place for a child. The worst place is inside a hot car.

In the last week - two northeast Oklahoma children were overcome by heat in cars, but lived. Aisha Bereal says she's afraid to leave her children alone in the car for even a moment. "I have been tempted, honestly, to leave them in the car, I have a quick run, I want to get in and out, that's not an option."

The inside air of a car can quickly get too hot for a child. That's why the city of Tulsa once considered making it illegal to leave a child in a car for more than 5 minutes.

It was eventually decided only state child neglect laws had the teeth to make a difference, but Tulsa Police would like to see the law strengthened. Tulsa Police Sgt. Whitney Allen: "We have so many tragic stories because of people leaving their child in the car, sometimes they forget, sometimes they think I'm only going to be in there a few minutes, and you cannot do it in this type of weather.”

The heat effect in cars is well documented, and researchers have found that children can't take it as well as adults. Jan Null with San Francisco State University: "A baby's physiology makes them heat up 3 - 5 times faster, so where it might take us a half hour to be overcome by that heat, they might be overcome in 5 - 10 minutes."

Aisha Bereal: "I don't know how you could go too far without remembering." Aisha raised her children without leaving them in the car and believes other parents can too - because the extra effort is worth it.

At least 42 children died in hot cars last year in the US. The big automakers are working on alarms to help forgetful parents, but they're not available now, on any car.