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Jul 2, 2014 7:35 PM by Ashlea Bullington

Children in Hot Cars Safety

Temperature in Acadiana is spiking and is bound to keep climbing as the summer progresses. Leaving a child in the car alone is not only illegal in Louisiana, but is extremely dangerous.

The disturbing number of recent arrests nationwide involving adults who leave children in vehicles include four Louisiana arrests from three instances of children abandoned in sweltering vehicles within the last two days.

In Houma, a mother now faces charges she left her 21-month-old son in a car while she ran inside a store. Officers say her car automatically shut off after 10 minutes. In Walker, police say that an allegedly intoxicated couple reportedly was surprised when police confronted them about leaving their infant in a hot vehicle for an hour. Police reported that the infant was crying in distress, prompting an officer to feed and change the infant before the child was turned over to the Department of Child and Family Services.

Earlier today, an officer in Slidell broke into a vehicle after someone noticed a five-week-old infant inside who initially was unresponsive. First responders were able to rescue the child. The mother, police say, forgot the infant was in the car. The mom was inside for more than 30 minutes and temperatures inside the car climbed to 130 degrees.

The Department of Geosciences reported 619 children died from heatstroke in vehicles from 1998 to 2013. In 29 percent of the cases, the child died after playing in an unattended vehicle. In 18 percent of the cases, an adult deliberately left a child in a vehicle. In more than half of those cases--52 percent-- the caregiver unintentionally forgot the child.

Health officials explain to KATC that a child's thermoregulation system, which is not as efficient as an adult's system, warms a child's body three-to-five times as quickly as his/her adult counterpart. Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature exceeds 104 degrees. Because of this difficulty in cooling off, officials emphasize that each minute that transpires while a child is in vehicle is critical.

The temperature can increase in a turned-off vehicle by 50 degrees in an hour, depending on outside temperature. Despite common perception, cracking a car window has little effect on how hot the car will get on the inside. Interior color actually is the biggest factor in temperature change.

Officials make suggestions for caregivers who intend to be extra cautious about not leaving a child behind in the car.

Put an indispensible item, such as a shoe, a purse, or a wallet, in the rear seat with the child.

Use the Swipe-Out Method, in which an adult places a teddy bear in the child's car seat when the car seat is not being used. When the child is in the car seat, the teddy bear rides close to the adult in the front seat as a reminder that the child is with the driver.

For more information about Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles, click here.

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