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State Police Warn Of Dangers Of Hot Cars After Death Of Ridgefield Toddler

The temperature inside a car parked in the sun, such as these in Parker-Harding Plaza in Westport, can increase 20 degrees or more in 10 minutes, experts say.
The temperature inside a car parked in the sun, such as these in Parker-Harding Plaza in Westport, can increase 20 degrees or more in 10 minutes, experts say. Photo Credit: File Photo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- After the death of a 15-month-old boy in Ridgefield in a hot car on Monday, July 7, the Connecticut State Police cautioned residents about the summertime danger.

"Leaving a child of any age unattended inside a closed and/or locked vehicle when summer temperatures begin to sizzle is dangerous and can be fatal," the Connecticut State Police said in a statement.

With temperatures approaching 90 degrees, as occurred Monday, the danger escalates even further, said Gary Lessor, assistant to the director of Meteorological Studies and Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

"Whenever the sun is at a high enough angle, which s basically from May through early September, you should never leave people or pets in the car," Lessor said. "Even on a 70-degree day with sunshine, the temperature in the car can still rise above 100 degrees because the solar radiation gets trapped in the car."

The heat is dangerous for a child who cannot get out of a car, or for an animal, Lessor said.

"Animals have no way to cool themselves except for panting, so they're basically trapped in a furnace and overheat," he said. "If you're responsible enough to have a pet, you should be responsible enough to leave them at home, even if they're begging for a ride."

The New Canaan Police put out the child safety tips in three steps:

  • Never leave a child alone in a car.
  • Look in your vehicle before locking the door.
  • Call 911 if you see a child left in a car.

As sweltering temperatures continue in Connecticut through the week, parents, guardians, day-care providers and babysitters should remember the severe dangers involved in leaving children in cars, the state police said.

In the summer, children sometimes they are supervised less and may play in unlocked cars or trunks. Children should never be left in a locked car and should not have access to unlocked, parked vehicles or trunks.

In 2013, 44 children nationwide died due to automobile heat-related deaths. Since 1998, more than 500 children have died from hyperthermia after being in a hot vehicle. These figures include those children left unattended and those who entered parked cars to play.

"These numbers are troublesome because they represent deaths of babies, toddlers, and young children and these deaths are completely preventable," state police said.

Fifteen children have died to date in 2014 across the U.S.

During summer weather, the temperature inside of a car can rise into the triple digits in minutes. Studies show that “dry heat” temperatures, within a closed vehicle, can become dangerous to small children and infants in only minutes.  A high level of humidity can reduce that time by one half.

The Connecticut State Police also urges all drivers to never leave a child unattended inside a car. Under Connecticut Law, leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle may result in a felony charge.

If anyone observes a child left unattended in any car, at any time, but especially on a hot day, call 911, state police said.

"This is a true emergency. You may help save a life," state police said.

Motorists are advised to keep their vehicles locked and never let children play in cars. Make a habit of looking in the car, front and back seats, before locking your vehicle and walking away.

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