This year, the “Don’t Leave Me Behind” vehicular heatstroke awareness campaign is kicking off with new partners to help spread this important safety message.
Working together with the Arizona Humane Society, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Penguin Air & Plumbing, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is challenging everyone to keep the number of incidents of children and pets left in hot cars this summer to zero.
Data compiled by the nonprofit KidsandCars.org rank Arizona as one of the top five states for these fatalities. Statistics compiled by San Jose State University ranked Arizona third nationally for child deaths due to heatstroke from being left in a hot car.
As part of the 2018 partnership campaign, an updated SafeKidsAZ webpage can be found at www.safekidsaz.org/vehicular-heatstroke. The website is filled with information, tips and videos to help people understand the dangers of hot cars and how the tragic loss of life in these scenarios is 100-percent preventable.
Leaving a child or pet in a vehicle is not only potentially fatal, in some circumstances it is a criminal offense. Never leave a child or an animal alone in a parked car—even with the windows rolled down or air conditioning on. The risk of vehicular heatstroke can occur in air temperatures of 80 degrees or less and even as low as 57 degrees. Interior temperatures can quickly rise to 125 degrees even with the windows slightly rolled down.
Never let children play in an unattended vehicle, and always check the back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away. If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.
If dropping a child off is not part of your normal routine, take steps to remind yourself that the child is in the car:
Last year, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that aims to end hot-car deaths and allows Good Samaritans to take action without risk of civil liability if they rescue a child or a pet from a hot car.
If you see a child or pet in a hot car and believe they are in imminent danger of physical injury or death: Call 911; determine if the vehicle is locked; if unlocked, open a door to enter the vehicle; if locked, you may break the window. Do not use more force than is necessary, and remain with the child or pet until the authorities arrive.