Don't Leave Your Kids In Hot Cars | Sarah Plake Sees How Long She'd Last

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Rising temperatures increase health risks, especially for children, the elderly, and pets. And, your car is one potential hot spot.

"As of June 8th, we've had four kids across the country who've died from being left in hot cars already," KDHE's Sarah Belfry said.

We hear stories every summer of a child locked in a hot car, and even worse - dying, after a parent forgot they were there.

While no one really knows what's going through someone's mind when they leave a child in a car, Belfry offers one potential reason.

"It happens in summer months when you're kind of out of your normal school routine," Belfry explained.

David Livingston told 13 NEWS it's something he and his wife always think about.

"Of course, wouldn't want to leave them in the car because the heat magnifies so much," Livingston said. "I just try to remember that everywhere we go, we go because we wanna spend time with the kids. So, we're naturally thinking about them the most."

"I think it is possible because parents have a lot to think about," he continued. "It's important to make sure you have everything you need and do a mental checklist and that'll help you make sure you don't forget the kids."

Health experts say even just a minute inside a hot car can be deadly for a child because a child's body is smaller and heats up much faster than an adult. A child doesn't sweat like an adult does because they aren't as developed, so they have a harder time cooling down as well.

"Once the body temperature reaches 104 degrees, that's when you can have serious problems, like brain swelling and other vital organs swelling and that's when you're really in the danger zone," Belfry said.

On days like northeast Kansas has experienced recently, with temperatures in the mid-90's, I wanted to know what it felt like to be a child in a hot car.

I had a thermometer with me in the vehicle, and when I got in, the temperature already read around 100 degrees.

The temperature rose more rapidly than I expected each minute. By five minutes, it had risen to 106 degrees. I was starting to feel very hot, very sweaty, my heart was racing.

By 8 minutes the temperature was around 108 degrees, and by that point I was feeling extremely lightheaded, and those other symptoms were magnified.

By 15 minutes, the temperature had soared over 110 degrees, and at that point I couldn't take it anymore, so I got out.

Lt. Colleen Stuart with the Topeka Police Department says by that point, it would be a serious medical emergency for a child.

Officials say you can prevent a tragedy by putting a purse or cell phone in the backseat next to your child as a reminder. Belfry suggests even calling your child care provider about having a policy in place where they will call you if your child does not arrive for scheduled care.

And, most importantly, if you see a child in a car - take action.

"Call 911 because we need to get help for the child ASAP," Lt. Stuart recommends.

"People can say they have a variety of reasons, it may sound like a variety of excuses, but the fact is a child was left in the car," Lt. Stuart continued. "Don't leave your kids in the car."

And, of course, officials say all these rules apply to pets as well.

Someone who leaves a child in a car can face charges of child endangerment, manslaughter, and homicide.

Lt. Stuart said breaking the window out of a car to rescue a child should be done if the child is in serious distress, and that scenario would depend on the situation.

KDHE offers an acronym to keep in mind to prevent child deaths in hot cars, ACT:

A - Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child in the car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you're not in it so kids don't get in on their own.
C - Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. Consider talking to your child care provider about having a policy in place where they will call you if your child does not arrive for scheduled care.
T - Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Since 1988 more than 635 kids across the U.S. have died from heatstroke while unattended in cars.

You can find additional information and education at sites like Safe Kids Kansas and Kids And Cars.