Phoenix Fire Department reminds parents of hot car dangers
May 3, 2023, 4:35 AM
(KTAR News Luke Forstner photo)
PHOENIX — The Valley got its first taste of triple-digit temperatures this year and it’s a good reminder for parents to be extremely cautious with kids and hot cars.
According to KidsAndCars.org, 36 children nationwide died of car-caused heatstroke in 2022.
Even though some can feel the heat getting in one’s car after it’s been parked for a while, they probably don’t realize just how hot it really is.
”We had a thermometer inside a car, and within minutes it was 140 degrees,” Phoenix fire captain Todd Keller said. “We’re at 90 degrees [outside temperature] right now. … And it still happened in a matter of minutes.”
Those temperatures are especially deadly for children, who heat up even faster than adults.
“104 degrees [body temperature] is your heat stroke beginning phases,” Keller explained. “At 107 degrees it becomes fatal.”
And he stressed that, when it comes to leaving kids in hot cars, there are no exceptions.
“Cracking a window, rolling a window down, they do absolutely nothing,” Keller said. “Heat deaths do happen in the shade.”
It happened to Valley mother Angela Jones, who lost her 3-year-old daughter Charly in 2019.
“It was a day that we were out of our normal routine,” she explained.
With a family vacation on the horizon, Jones’ husband had Charly with him in his car, after dropping the couple’s other two daughters off at school.
“He didn’t realize she was still in the car with him, he normally would have dropped her off at preschool,” Jones said. “He parked in our driveway and proceeded to go inside to work.”
Jones’s husband didn’t realize Charly had been left in the car until he got a call from his wife. By then, it was too late.
“We had to go to the hospital, and we had to leave that hospital without our little girl,” Jones said. “We had to go home and tell our two other daughters that their little sister wasn’t coming home.”
Captain Keller stressed while parents need to be proactive to keep their kids safe, the automotive industry is starting to put protections in place as well.
“Now there are starting to be sensors,” he explained. “If there’s something back there before you get out of the car, it’ll notify you to look in the rear seat.”
If your car doesn’t have that system, Keller had another easy option to ensure you don’t forget your kids.
“Put a personal belonging in the backseat, a phone or a purse,” he explained. “Something that when you get out of the car, you need to remember to get it.”
Jones says simple precautions like these are incredibly important, and she urges all parents to make them a habit.
“I share my story, as difficult as it is, in hopes that I can reach people and have them realize that it happens in loving families,” she said. “I was one of those people who thought it was never going to happen to them, ever. But it did.”