"It only takes a few minutes for a child to be in serious danger in this heat," says Captain Ron Stayton, Commander of the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division. "We're asking folks who see something, to do something by calling for help."
State agencies are joining together to prevent more tragedies like the ones the state already has seen this year and encourage anyone who witnesses a child left in an unattended vehicle to call 911 or their nearest law enforcement agency.
Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rolling windows down slightly also isn't a guarantee of safety. Interior temperatures can still rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.
Anyone left inside a vehicle is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death. When traveling, remember to:
- Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
- Remind yourself that a child is in the car by keeping a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
- When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.
- Look in the backseat every time you leave the car, even when you aren't carrying a child with you.
Hot temperatures and high humidity are a dangerous mix that contributes to illness and death each year. There were 17 Arkansans that died due to heat-related illness in 2011. On average, there are 400 heat-related deaths a year in the U.S.