BEDFORD -- Police Chief Robert Bongiorno and Fire Chief David Grunes, along with the Bedford Police and Fire Departments are teaming up to remind families and caregivers of children to never leave a child, pet, or anyone else in a hot car.
According to the non-profit Kidsandcars.org, an average of 37 children die of heat stroke every year after being left alone in hot cars across the U.S. These are completely preventable tragedies. The Bedford Police and Fire Departments routinely respond to incidents in which children or pets are accidentally left in a car or when a passerby calls police after seeing a child or pet in a vehicle.
"Children are more vulnerable to heat than adults are. Even if it's not a 95-degree day, vehicles heat up to unhealthy temperatures in a matter of minutes," Chief Grunes said.
On a hot day, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in a matter of minutes. The majority of deaths occur when a parent or caregiver forgets a child in a car, but children also get into cars on their own, and some parents are still not aware of the dangers.
Officials offer the following facts about children and hot cars:
- Children suffer from the effects of heat faster than adults
- Nearly 90 percent of children killed in hot cars are under age 3
- Cracking windows open does not make a difference
- The outside temperature does not always matter. According to Kidsandcars.org, children have died in cars with outside temperatures as low as 60 degrees.
"As public safety officials, the health, safety, and welfare of all residents, especially children and babies, is our most important mission," Chief Bongiorno said. "Not only is it dangerous to leave a child in a hot car, it is also a crime. Please read and understand this vital information, as it might save a precious life."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips:
- Always check the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
- Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
- If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
If you see a child left in a car, take action immediately. Do not wait for the driver to return or assume that they will be back soon. If the child appears to be in distress, get them out of the car immediately and dial 911.
Pets should also not be left alone in hot cars. According to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pets suffer needlessly when left in hot cars, even on moderately warm days. Such actions can result not only in harm to your pet but also fines and possible prison time for pet owners who leave their pets in a hot vehicle.