In two separate instances two baby girls were left in hot cars in Missouri. One of the babies died; the other survived and was placed in protective custody care.
In temperatures of nearly 100 degrees or more, the babies’ mothers had left them in locked cars as they went off to do something else. It’s hard to imagine that kind of irresponsibility, which is – let’s face it – the same thing as willful cruelty. Everybody has experienced the instant oppressive feeling of getting into a car after it’s been parked, with windows closed, on a very hot day. Heat in that car can quickly climb to 130 degrees and more in a closed car, enough to virtually bake something. Any parent who would leave a child or a pet in a car that hot should be punished under the law. They should also have their children or their pets taken away from them.
Another horrible aspect of children and pets dying in hot cars is a speculative horror. How many of these parents leave their children in cars on purpose, just so they’d have a plausible excuse to get rid of an unwanted child or two? Probably very few (let us hope none) have ever done that, but – still – it makes you wonder.
The best thing to do if you see a child or pet suffering in a closed car is to call 911 immediately. If the doors are not locked, open the door to get some air to the victim. If it appears the child is within imminent death, break the window of the vehicle. This may cause some legal problems, but legal problems are better than allowing the death of a child. Another thing to do, if the child is clearly in danger, is to rush into nearby stores and announce there is a child in danger and try to find the car’s driver through an intercom system. That step should be done with endangered pets, too.
Death by heatstroke can occur in just 10 minutes or less, especially to children and animals in a closed car. The signs of impending heat stroke are panting, drooling, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, disorientation, collapse or loss of consciousness, seizure, clammy skin or respiratory arrest. People who witness someone with those symptoms should remove them immediately to a shadier, cooler spot. Call for help. Then have them lie down, loosen their clothing, remove their shoes or any head gear and cool their bodies down by repeatedly applying cold water or other liquids (such as soda pop). This remedy for heat stroke applies to people who were trapped in cars as well as other victims of excessive heat.
The recent record heat waves throughout the nation, including Minnesota, should be a reminder to us all to slow down and stay indoors to avoid the heat as much as possible. Most of all, we should remind ourselves and one another never to leave a pet or child in a hot vehicle, even if the windows are cracked open a bit. Better yet, we should remember children should never be left alone in vehicles, period, for whatever reason. A hot vehicle to a small child or pet can soon become a torture chamber and then a deathtrap.