Editorial: Be aware of parents who irresponsibly leave their kids in cars this summer

Jun. 17, 2013 @ 11:48 PM

As the weather heats up, parents need to be warned not to do something they already ought to know they shouldn’t do. Parenting doesn’t require a license, so the irresponsible ones need a reminder about some basics of of raising a child.

In the first six months of this year, 10 children died in the United States due to hyperthermia. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is reminding the public on the dangers of leaving children in unattended vehicles. State troopers are urging motorists to take extra precautions as the summer arrives.

In 2012, there were 32 juvenile vehicle hyperthermia fatalities nationwide. Five were in Tennessee.

“Heat can build up in a vehicle in a matter of minutes, and can cause sickness or worse, death, to children and pets. Motorists should routinely make sure all occupants exit the vehicle whenever reaching a destination. Any negligence could lead to the loss of a loved one, as well as jail time or severe penalties,” Trooper Col. Tracy Trott said.

Experts say the temperature inside a car can reach potentially deadly levels within minutes on a typical summer day. The inside temperature can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. On a mild day at 73 degrees outside, an SUV can heat up to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes.

From 1998 to 2012, the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University found that half of child vehicular heat stroke cases were due to children forgotten by caregivers and three in 10 were because children were playing in unattended vehicles.

Only 20 states, including Tennessee, have laws that prohibit leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.A law is only as good as those who obey it. If you see children unattended in a car, report it to the authorities. Kids rely on the nurturing and responsibility of those who raise them. In a void, it sometimes takes the rest of us to see that children are properly cared for.