New York State warns St. Lawrence County residents not to leave children, pets in hot cars
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 5:32 pm

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection, Office for Children and Family Services, and Department of Health are warning residents of St. Lawrence County and elsewhere in the state about the perils of leaving children and pets in cars during hot days.

In addition to the real and severe danger of leaving children or pets in hot cars, the caregiver could be culpable under child endangerment laws.

Sadly, 819 children have died nationwide due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) since 1998. Ten of these were in New York State.

Heatstroke can occur when the internal body organs or body core temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Heatstroke symptoms may include confusion, combativeness, faintness, and bizarre behavior. High body temperature can cause irreversible brain damage.

A body temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit is considered deadly. On a clear 85-degree Fahrenheit day, the temperature of an enclosed motor vehicle can rise to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes, 119 degrees in half an hour, and 128 degrees in one hour.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the Department of Health urge parents, guardians and other caregivers to abide by these tips (available in English and Spanish). Specifically:

• Never leave a child in an unattended vehicle in the warm weather, not even with the windows slightly open or down, due to the risk of heatstroke (hyperthermia).

• If you see a child in a hot car, call 911 right away and follow instructions. Emergency personnel are trained to respond.

• Teach children not to play in or around vehicles and to alert an adult when a friend is playing in a vehicle without supervision. Make sure children understand the dangers of trunk entrapment (suffocation, heatstroke, etc.).

• Place a stuffed toy in your child’s car seat when not in use and move the toy to the front passenger seat when your child is in the car seat as a reminder that your child is in the vehicle.

• Conversely, place something in the backseat that you would need, such as a purse, briefcase or cell phone.

Additional tips to ensure safety of children and pets in cars on hot days:

• When driving with a child in a vehicle, use drive-through services whenever possible.

• Place something in the backseat that you would need, such as a purse, briefcase or cell phone.

• Double-check the car to make sure that all occupants leave the vehicle or are carried out when unloading. Locking the door with an actual key, as opposed to a remote or key fob, would force the driver to take one last look in the car before leaving it.

• Always lock your car and keep keys and remotes away from children.

• Set cell-phone reminders to ensure children have been safely transported to their destination(s).

• Have a plan in place to ensure your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up.