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Three children have died in US this year from being left in hot car, cellphones tend to be biggest distraction for parents, fire official says


Three children have died so far in 2024 as the result of them being left in a hot car, according to information from the Kids and Car Safety national database.

Boone County Fire Protection District Assistant Fire Chief Gale Blomenkamp said rolling down your window a small amount is not enough ventilation to protect your pet or child in hot temperatures.

"So just cracking a window is not going to be enough... When you're inside of a vehicle, those those things can get upwards 140, 150 degrees in just a matter of a few minutes after they're parked," Blomenkamp said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's.

When a child is left in a vehicle, their temperature can rise quickly. Heatstroke occurs when core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees. A child can die when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees, according to the NHTSA.

Blomenkamp said cellphones are the biggest distractions amongst parents, leading them to often forget personal items, and sometimes even their children.

"Cellphones can be very destructive to people and parents. So understand that when you have a kid in a car and you're traveling with that child, that is your main focus," Blomenkamp said.

He adds whether its children or pets, the Boone County Fire Department will respond equally.

"We have ways to unlock cars, and we will do that, if at all possible. But, if we feel like it's a dire emergency, we're just going to break the window, get the cat or get the pet out so people can be responsible for their own windows," Blomenkamp said.

Similar to children, pets can experience heatstroke within minutes. These symptoms can include restlessness, heavy panting, vomiting and lethargy. If you see an animal left alone in a hot car, it's recommended you call 9-1-1 and do not leave the scene until officials arrive.

Blomenkamp said the Boone County Fire Protection District has not had reports of a child being left in a hot car yet this summer.

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Olivia Hayes

Olivia is a summer intern at ABC 17 News.


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