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Leaving child or pet in hot car, not just deadly, illegal

POSTED: Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 2:52pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 8:30am

WACO -- I'll be gone only 5 minutes, I'll crack the windows, it's not that hot outside, all common excuses that could harm or worse, kill your child.

"In just 10 minutes it can raise 19 degrees Fahrenheit, in 20 minutes, 30 degrees Fahrenheit and in an hour, over 40 degrees Fahrenheit," Dr. Tim Martindale, family medicine physician said.

Thirty-eight children die every year by being left in a hot car. One of them in McLennan County last year.

This week Waco had their first heat-related child endangerment arrest after a mom, who thought she'd only be gone for only a few minutes, came back to her toddler needing medical attention from heat exhaustion.

"When we got to check the temperature of that car, it's 7:30 at night but the inside of the vehicle was nearly 100 degrees," Sgt. Patrick Swanton with Waco Police Department said.

We're used to temperatures in the 100s, but it turns out, a child can be at risk in a car when temperatures are in 70s, in just a matter of minutes.

"The real problem is the sun heats the parts inside the car, so within a short time frame the parts inside the car can raise to over 200 degrees. If a child's temperature gets over 107, it can go into death. That can happen in 10 to 15 minutes," Dr. Martindale said.

Even if you're windows are down it's illegal to leave a child under 8 or a pet in the car unattended.

"In the event that the child is injured we're going to put you in jail for endangering a child," Sgt. Swanton said. 

But life happens and mistakes do too. So police say leave reminders for yourself to check where the baby is. In a world full of technology, of course, there's an app for that.

One we found was called "Baby Reminder." You plug in times when you're in the car and it will alert you when you get to a destination to check the baby.

But if you do see a child left in a car, police say call 911 immediately and stay with the child until police come. Just by calling you could be saving the child's life.

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