Studies finds that hot cars can become deadly in as little as an hour for children and pets trapped inside.
Florida authorities are investigating the death of a newborn baby who was left for “several hours” inside a car on Wednesday, the 21st child to die of vehicular heatstroke in the U.S. this year according to one national tracker.
The infant girl’s death is the second in Florida this year and the seventh nationally in the last month, according to KidsandCars.org. The baby was found by Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies after they were called to a home in Panama City, according to a Facebook statement.
“Deputies arrived and discovered a newborn had been left in a vehicle for possibly several hours,” the sheriff’s office said.
The deputies’ life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and the baby was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The sheriff’s office is working to establish a timeline and speaking to witnesses, the Panama City News Herald of the USA TODAY Network reported on Thursday.
The high temperature in Panama City was 91 degrees, according to Weather.com.
Look before you lock: Child safety advocates worry about hot car deaths amid COVID-19 stress and rising temperatures
Since 1990, Florida ranks second in the U.S. with 99 child fatalities inside hot cars, according to KidsandCar.org data. Only Texas (140) has more recorded cases, including five deaths in 2020.
The last two years have been the worst nationally: A record 54 children died of vehicular heatstroke in 2018, followed by 53 a year ago.
While this year’s total is “lower than the average number,” likely due to more limited travel in many places amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, KidsandCars.org Director Amber Rollins said the nonprofit child safety organization is “concerned that the numbers will increase as routines continue to shift and families begin going back to work and school.”
A startling 56% of hot car deaths are the result of children being unknowingly left inside vehicles, Rollins said in a news release.
To avoid future deaths, KidsandCars.org has a list of tips:
- Make it a habit to open the back door every time you get out of the car to make sure no children are left inside. Place an essential item, like your cell phone or wallet, in the backseat to enforce this habit.
- Keep your car locked at all times, especially when parked in a driveway or garage.
- Keep your keys out of children’s reach.
- Teach your child to honk if they are ever stuck in a car.
Contributing: Jacqueline Bostick, The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.); Jessica Flores, USA TODAY.
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