PALM DESERT, Calif. - Leaving a child in a hot car can be deadly. The topic is gaining national steam after more and more child heat stroke deaths continue to pop up around the country. Just Wednesday, a three-year-old boy died after getting locked inside a car near a small neighborhood in Los Angeles. On average, 38 children die each year due to vehicular heat stroke, and the latest tragedy puts the death count at 19 across the nation. But there are ways to prevent it, and some stores are taking action.
Luis Arias is a Walmart shopper and has a family of four, including two twins. "Sometimes we get so busy thinking about our jobs and getting some work done," said Arias. He understands the possible reasons for forgetting, but no matter how brief the time may be, leaving kids in cars is never okay. Walmart in Palm Desert took action, posting signs on their glass-sliding doors, stating, "look before you leave". Captain Scott Visyak from Cal Fire also had a helpful tip for adults who travel with children in the backseat. "Put your phone with your child," said Visyak. "Put it in the backseat with your child so therefore, when you get out of the car and you're busy and you're preoccupied, you're going to remember that phone."
News Channel 3 reporter Angelo Caruso got in a parked, turned-off car, and within 15 minutes, saw temperatures rise dramatically. The outdoor thermometer went well over 140 degrees, and that temperature can kill children that can't handle those extreme heats. A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults. And even with the windows down, temperatures can get to unbearable numbers in mere minutes, so if you see something out of the ordinary, officials recommend citizens take action. "(People) need to notify the local authorities, and then if they feel that that child's life is in danger, then absolutely, they got to do what they got to do to mitigate that situation," Visyak said.
California passed Kaitlyn's Law in 2002, making it illegal to leave a child six years or younger unattended by someone younger than 12 years old. But even this year, California has already seen three kids die due to vehicular heat stroke, tied for the most of any state with Texas and South Carolina.