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Protecting kids from hot cars

Gordon Graham recommends responders be vigilant and on the lookout for kids left in hot vehicles during warmer months

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Today’s Tip deals with protecting kids from hot cars and applies equally to our friends in law enforcement, the fire service, and EMS.

Did you know that, on average, 38 children die each year in the U.S. from extreme heat exposure due to being left inside a hot vehicle? In fact, there were 51 such deaths in 2018 alone.

Even the best parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping child in a car. On a hot day, the consequences can be tragic, resulting in heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or even death.

With this information in mind, several car manufacturers are engineering new technology that can tell if the rear door has been opened before the vehicle was operated, thereby reminding the operator to check the back seat.

Even when a vehicle’s air conditioning system is on, these deaths can occur. Ask the mother who left her car running with the AC on, and her baby in the backseat. Imagine the shock when she found her child nonresponsive and the AC not blowing cold air.

Please make it your practice, especially in the warmer months, to be ever vigilant and on the lookout for kids in hot cars. As a first responder, you can do more to help protect these kids. Remember, you ARE their first line of defense. Their lives may depend on you.

When in parking lots and on patrol, scan for kids left alone in cars. And be sure to preplan your response. What should you do first? I suggest you always carry a car door opener/lockout kit and a window breaking tool with you. The speed of your response may mean the difference between life and death.

And, last, I encourage departments to make this cause part of their public relations/education campaigns. As they say, an ounce of prevention goes a long way!

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.