The Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet state that 52 children had died in hot cars last year, three of those being in Kentucky.
Statistics show that these deaths are on the rise so as a result the Kentucky State Police (KSP) is “renewing its plea for parents to be extremely cautious about leaving children in hot cars.”
According to the safety organization Kids and Cars, 52 children died in 2018 of hyperthermia as a result of being left in a hot car, this is nearly a 21 percent increase over 2017 death totals.
Since 1998, there have been 25 child-related vehicular heatstroke deaths in Kentucky. These include instances where a child has been forgotten in a car, accidentally locks themselves in a vehicle or, in a small number of cases, when a child has been intentionally left in a car.
KSP spokesman Sgt. Josh Lawson says, “the increasing number of children dying in hot cars is reaching epidemic proportions.”
Lawson explains why these deaths are so prevailing, “A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than that of an adult,” adds Lawson. “The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Depending on the circumstances, an infant could die of hyperthermia in just 15 minutes on a 75-degree day.”
“The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them,” says Lawson. “In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them,” Lawson continued.
Kentucky passed “Bryan’s Law” in 2000, which makes a person liable for second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child younger than eight years of age in a motor vehicle where circumstances pose a grave risk of death. The law was named after 11-month old Bryan Puckett, who died July 13, 1999 after being left in a hot car by his babysitter.
Lawson warns that while a person will face criminal charges for leaving a child in a car, the pain and guilt from making such a devastating mistake will last far longer.
The Kentucky State Police provide these safety tips:
- Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
- Make it a habit of opening the rear door of the car every time you park to ensure no one is left inside.
- To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without such as a purse, briefcase, employee badge, phone, etc.
- When at home, keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in the garage.
- Never leave keys within reach of children.
KSP asks citizens to keep an eye out for children left in vehicles on hot days and to call 911 if they see an unaccompanied child in distress.