BOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) — Across the region this week, temperatures are expected to soar; along with them, the danger to your children rises as well. That’s why Kentucky State Police are invested in a “Keeping Kids Cool” initiative this summer.
Leaving a child in a hot car is something no parent would ever want to happen. Kentucky State Trooper Bobby King says even for first responders, these cases are never easy.
“Most of your first responders, when they respond to this stuff, it’s like finding your own kid,” King says.
Midge Holley, office manager of the Child Development Academy at Marshall University, says this is something that can happen to anyone, regardless of other factors.
“It happens to anyone, and it has happened to people I know, and are very highly educated, very intelligent, very normal people,” Holley says.
Heatstroke related deaths of children left in hot cars is a problem that has been growing in past years. King says in the last year alone, 52 children died from this nationwide—and two of those were in Kentucky.
“Since 1998, there’s been 850 children die in hot locked cars,” he says. “Last year we had 52, the year before that was 53, that was the record year. You know. These things happen. So don’t think it can’t happen to you. As crazy as it sounds, you know, how could you forget your kid, but it happens.”
“Cause life gets hectic. You might have something on your mind, your routine might be out of sync for that morning, you could’ve had an argument or family emergency … anything could have happened that would cause you not to think,” Holley says.
In an effort to prevent tragedies of this sort, daycare providers shared some tips about how to stay vigilant.
“I would put your stuff in your backseat — your purse, your lunch, your briefcase, whatever it is that you need for work, I would put it in my backseat. That way, when you get out to get your belongings, you’ll notice whether your child’s there or not,” Holley says.
Additionally, Jeanette Barker’s center in Ceredo, West Virginia, has put up “Idle Free” signs to help parents remember not to leave the car running with kids inside.
“We posted these to kind of help parents remember not to leave your car running with maybe a younger sibling or someone in the car,” Barker says.
The best advice, however, is simply to be diligent.
“Check the backseat. You know? If you’re getting ready to leave, check the backseat. You get home? Check the backseat,” King says.
Kentucky State Police are urging residents, as the temperatures continue to rise, if you see a child in a hot car unattended, to dial 9-1-1.
Luckily, no cases were reported in Ohio or West Virginia last year, but it is something all parents and caregivers should be aware of to continue to keep all children safe.