An all points bulletin

On July 8, one child died after being left in a hot vehicle in Ridgefield, Connecticut, while a store employee in Jacksonville, Florida, found a second child before serious injury occurred. The mother of the child in Jacksonville stated that the child did not want to go into the store, so she cracked the window and left the child in the car. Where is the common sense in this? This scenario plays out across this country every summer. If I heard right, seventeen children have lost their lives in hot cars during 2014.

A vehicle can quickly reach triple digits inside. As I have stated before, the young and the elderly are most prone to the dangerous effects of these temperatures, but anyone is susceptible to heat stroke, given the right circumstances. Let me say it this way, unless an adult is in the vehicle and the vehicle is left running with the air conditioner on, then there is no reason whatsoever to leave a child, or a pet in a vehicle. You might say, “I am only going in the store for a second.” No excuse!

I will remind you of an incident that we ran while I was at Station 1 in Chester. We were dispatched to a child locked in the trunk of a non-running vehicle. We arrived to meet a mother who told me that her child’s “friends” had locked her in the trunk. It was a very hot and humid day. We spoke with the child through the trunk, and she said, “Please get me out.” Mom told us that the car was a rental and that her husband would be back in twenty minutes or so with the keys. The mind-boggling statement came when I told her that we would need to force open the trunk. Mom’s reply was, “Can’t we wait until my husband gets home with the keys?” As I instructed my crew to force the trunk, I told mom all the reasons that we could not. When the trunk opened, the child had stripped down to her underwear and was ringing wet with sweat. Thankfully, the child was fine.

I want to remind folks that this scenario can play out accidentally as well. Well-meaning parents get distracted or forget that they are taking their child to daycare and do not realize it until it is too late. This is an absolute tragedy. It usually occurs because the child falls asleep or is just quiet and the parent forgets, for whatever reason. It might seem hard to believe that a parent could forget their child like that, but it does happen.

It is my goal to educate every person that reads this article. I will use every window of opportunity to make my point. You can imagine how insensitive and unpopular my message becomes when the scenario plays out in our community. Ridgefield and Jacksonville are a long ways from Chester. If we do not learn from these incidents, history will repeat itself at our back door. Please heed my warnings on this. This is a preventable scenario, simply by leaving your pet at home or taking your child in the store with you. Bottom line; do not leave any living thing in your hot car.   


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