Hot car dangers

Seven children across the country have already died this year because they were left in a hot car, including a 9-month-old in Wilkes County, North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance and Governor’s Highway Safety Program have partnered to warn parents about the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot vehicles.

With the temperatures rising into the high 80s and low 90s, and expected to increase throughout the summer, a statewide summer safety program called, “Baby, It’s Hot Outside” was launched.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance and Governor’s Highway Safety Program conducted a hot-car demonstration Wednesday afternoon at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord.

“We have a hot-car demonstration to show how dangerous it is to leave a child or pet in a hot car,” said North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. “People don’t think about, maybe unintentionally, they will pick something up from a store and forget the child is in the vehicle.”

The demonstration included putting S’mores on the dashboard inside of a scorching hot vehicle, and watching it melt.

Car heat bakes s'mores

The temperature got up to 85 degrees outside and 176 degrees inside the car. 

“It’s inexcusable because this is very preventable,” Causey said.

North Carolina Department of Insurance officials say 52 children in the country died from child vehicular childhood deaths in 2018, including a 7-month from Raleigh who was left in a hot car for more than two hours.

“This is very important,” North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Director Mike Ezzell said. “We have a warm, but not hot day in the low 80s. This is nothing what it’s going to be like in six weeks.

“This s’mores demonstration gives a very good indication when a child is left in the car seat, and that happens far too often. Hopefully this is the kind of reminder that will make a difference.”

Ezzell said it can only take a few minutes in a hot car for a child to suffer a heat-related illness.

“A kid could potentially get heat stroke in a matter of minutes. It’s dangerous,” Ezzell said.

The demonstration took place in the parking lot of Great Wolf Lodge after a conference for the Safe Kids North Carolina, which is celebrating its 25th year.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-90s through the weekend and into next week.

“Every minute counts,” said Allan Buchanan, Injury Prevention Specialist with North Carolina Department of Insurance. “The longer you leave your child in the car, the more potential you have for heat stroke injuries. It’s an important issue to remind parents to not to leave your kids in a hot car.”

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