First Responders Give Tips To Prevent Hot Car Deaths

FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Police and emergency responders around the country are still answering call of children left in hot cars, including in our area.

"Usually what happens is we get a call from the shopping centers," Sgt. Clyde Forrest, Fort Smith Police Department said. "Someone has run in to do a couple minutes of shopping and they're usually inside much longer than they think."

Forrest said the department answers calls for both children and pets being locked in hot cars.

"They crack the window thinking that's enough, but a hot day with the sunshine shining in the car, it's just not," Forrest said.

In Fort Smith alone, police answer dozens of calls every summer.

"We get three or four calls of animals left in a car every week," Forrest said. "Over a summer, we might get 30 to 40 calls of children left unattended in a vehicle on purpose. In the last year, we've had approximately 34 calls of children locked in a car on accident."

While officials say it may not feel that hot outside, in just 60 degree weather, the inside of your car could reach more than 100 degrees.

"It gets hot really quick," Skip Mathews, Battalion Chief, Fort Smith Fire Department said. "It could rise 20 degrees every ten minutes. Pay attention. There's no safe time limit."

Leaving your child alone in a hot car could not only lead to death, but could have some legal consequences, as well.

"You're probably going to have DHS or the child welfare hotline contact you," Forrest said. "There's a very good chance you could face some criminal charges and this could wind up having your child taken from you, jail, cost and fines just because you didn't want to take the time to take your child out of the car."

If you see a child or pet left in a hot car unattended, police said don't hesitate to call 911.

"If you see this, don't be afraid to call," Forrest said. "Quite often, we get the report that someone has watched a car for 20 minutes and nobody has come to check on the child. Well, that's 20 minutes the child has sat in a hot car and you don't know how long the kid was there before you saw it. Call us when you find it, don't wait.

Police suggest parents should get in the habit of checking the back seat of their car. Officers said to also leave your purse or cell phone in the back seat if a child is in the car so you have to go to the backseat before leaving the area of the vehicle.