Florala 2-year-old left in car

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Authorities able to get child out; vehicle temps rise quickly

A Florala mother had quite the scare over the weekend when her 2-year-old was accidentally left in a running car.

Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole said when the mother got out of the car, the door shut and locked behind her, adding that the car was on and the air conditioning was running.

“They were able to get the child out,” Bedsole said.

Within three to four minutes of responding to the call, a coat hanger was used to unlock the vehicle and the child was set free, Bedsole said.

“She was fine,” the chief said about the 2-year-old.

If the child had been left in the car without the car’s A/C running, then the temperature would have risen between 30-40 degrees higher than the outside temperature, Opp Pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang said.

Bang said the temperature can rise several degrees in the first half hour.

“You could probably reach 120 degrees in 20 minutes in the first half hour or so,” Bang said. “It’s quite easy, and people will leave their car A/C on and windows open, but they don’t understand how fast the temperature can rise.”

Bang said there have been 600 hot car deaths in the last 10 years in the United States, adding that anywhere between 15-40 are reported each year.

“It involves everybody,” he said. “It’s not just the lower or middle classes. It affects all of the classes.”

Bang said the main problem is that people don’t have a routine of checking in the back of their cars for their children.

“They don’t intentionally do it,” he said. “They don’t desire to do it (leave their children in the hot cars). These are unintentional habits. Babies have a larger surface area for their size. So, they can start off getting into heat stroke and dehydration quite easily. And, parents seem to misunderstand the scale of the problem.”

Bang said babies are especially susceptible because they haven’t developed a sweating mechanism.

The University of Alabama’s Tammy Morrow provides some precautions caregivers can take to avoid hot-car deaths.

They are the following:

• Place personal articles such as purses, cell phones and briefcases on the backseat to ensure that you look in that area before leaving the car.

• Seat your younger children behind the front passenger seat where they are more likely to be in your eyesight.

• Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s seat when your child is not in the seat. Place the object, as a reminder, on the front seat when the baby is on board.

• Request that your sitter or staff at your child-care program phone to check on your baby when they are not present.

• Start a routine of opening your back door to check the backseat before leaving your car.

• Make sure that the doors to all parked vehicles are locked at all times.

• Hang keys out of reach of young children.

Bang said if you see a child locked in a hot car, call 9-1-1 so they can handle the situation.

Andalusia Police Assistant Chief Paul Dean said there haven’t been any reports related to babies being left in hot cars.

“I hope we don’t have to respond to any of them,” Dean said.

Opp Assistant Police Chief Kevin Chance said the department hasn’t received any reports, but said about four to five years ago, they had an instance where a small child was left in a hot car.

“By the time we arrived on scene, we didn’t see anything on that,” Chance said.