Police warn about leaving kids in hot cars

Posted: Updated:

MESA, Ariz. -- As Valley temperatures rise into the 100-plus degree range, the Mesa Police Department kicks off a campaign to remind motorists not to leave valuables in the car, especially your children and pets.

Officers want to get the word out about just how deadly and damaging the Arizona heat can be. The city’s crime-prevention unit warns drivers about how quickly the temperatures can rise in a vehicle here in Arizona. They cite a study conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University that says in 10 minutes, the temperature can rise as much as 19 degrees; in 20 minutes, 29 degrees, in an hour, more than 40 degrees.

National statistics collected by those same professors show 10 children have already died this year alone because they were left in hot cars.

Last year, 49 children died, and since 1998, more than 500 children have died in hot cars nationwide.

According to the study, 75 percent of children who die in hot cars are under the age of 2.

Meteorologist April Warnecke says we should expect these hot temperatures now through September, and we likely will not see much relief until October.

Experts warn that heatstroke can occur when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed.

Mesa police have several safety recommendations.

- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.

- If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately.

- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.

- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote-entry devices.

- If a child is missing, always check the pool first, and then the car, including the trunk.

- Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.

- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.

- Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.

- Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.

- Have a plan so that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school or daycare.

Officers also warn about leaving other valuables in the car, like electronics, DVDs or CDs or your purse or wallet. Not only can the heat damage these items, but when they are out and visible in your vehicle, police say they make you vulnerable to burglary.