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June 2012
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KSP: Keep kids out of hot cars

Staff report

The Kentucky State Police remind parents not to leave a child alone in a hot car as temperatures are on the rise. The National Safety Council reports that nine children have already died in 2014 from being left in hot cars across the U.S.

An ongoing study by San Francisco State University estimates that since 1998, there have been 615 heatstroke deaths of children left in vehicles, an average of 38 per year. Most of those deaths were children under 2.

In 2000, Kentucky passed "Bryan's Law," which makes a person liable for second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child younger than 8 in a motor vehicle where circumstances pose a grave risk of death.  The law was named after 11-month old Bryan Puckett, who died July 13, 1999, after being left in a hot car by his babysitter.

State police spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb says most people know the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car, but each year these senseless tragedies continue to occur.

"A child's body heats up three to five times faster than that of an adult," says Webb. "The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes.  Together, this can be deadly in a very short period of time."

Webb offers the following safety tips:

n Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.

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

n Always lock your car. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.

n 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 as a reminder.

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

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

State police ask citizens to keep an eye out for children left in vehicles on hot days and to call 911 if they think the occupant is in danger.

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