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Experts remind parents of dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles

Experts remind parents of dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles
Experts remind parents of dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles 03:14

(CBS DETROIT) - As a heat wave grips Michigan, officials are reminding parents that time is of the essence when it comes to leaving children in hot cars. 

Debra Langlois, a pediatrician at Michigan Medicine, said the rise in temperature can happen faster than you think. 

"Cars can get hot very quickly," she said. "In the span of about 10 minutes, a car can increase by about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. And so, that's a really quick rise in temperature. I think some families think, 'Oh gosh, if I leave the window down, that will help.' It doesn't change the temperature of the car significantly, and so a warm car is a significant danger to our children." 

Law enforcement officials know far too well the dangers of leaving children behind in a sweltering vehicle. 

"We've responded to some parents who their excuse is they simply go into the store for seconds and leave their kids in a car, and it only takes seconds for kids to become very ill and critical in a hot car on a hot day," said Ann Arbor PD Lieutenant Corey Mills. 

"When your core body temperature reaches higher degrees related to a hot environment you are in in a hot car, your body's organs actually start to shut down in the worst-case scenario," said Langlois. "And it can lead to severe consequences, even death. That can happen, in, what I've seen, in a matter of minutes." 

According to the National Safety Council, 29 children left in hot vehicles in 2023 died from heatstroke. 

Local parent Sandra Waddell said to avoid forgetting, she simply doesn't leave her daughter in the car. 

"Even if it's just for a second, I always take her with me," she said. "Even if it does feel inconvenient, I always make that a priority because you never know when you walk away from your vehicle if something can tie you up or if you could forget. And I think, just most importantly, always keep your baby on you at all times just to avoid the possibility of forgetting." 

To prevent dangerous situations, some vehicles have built-in reminders when you turn off your car to check your back seat. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds people to: 

• Never leave children alone in a car 

• Keep all doors and trunks locked 

• Create reminders to check the backseat 

• Take action if you use a child alone in a hot car 

"If you see a child, or a pet, for that matter, in a car on a hot day, please give us a call," said Lt. Mills. "And you can call 9-1-1 because that is an urgent situation. We will respond, and we will respond to that child from that vehicle by whatever it takes. We have broken windows before, unfortunately, but we take the life and health of the child or the pet more serious than property damage." 

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