BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With the unusual heat wave, health and safety experts are warning parents about the dangers of leaving a child alone in a hot car — which can lead to serious injury or even death.
On average, about 37 children die from heat-related deaths after being left in a hot car. In Maryland, it was a close call in Prince George’s County.
A one-and-a-half-year-old girl was locked inside a hot, running car for hours in Suitland.
“She was either sleeping or had passed, so I literally said, ‘Let this child be alive.’ And then I saw her chest begin to rise,” Corporal Darryl Wormuth said.
On Tuesday when Wormuth felt something was wrong, he returned to the scene of an arrest he made hours prior.
“I reached around the seat and was able to look in the back and that’s when I saw a car seat, and thought, ‘Please, God, please let this child be alive,” Wormuth said.
The drastic spike in temperatures feels more like summer than spring, and inside a car, it can surge to dangerous levels.
“These vehicles heat up very quickly. They act like a greenhouse. In fact, 80 percent of the increase in temperature in a vehicle happens within the first ten minutes,” said Amber Rollins, director of Kids and Cars.
When children are forgotten or accidentally trapped in a hot car, experts say they can die from the extreme conditions.
“When you combine that with the fact that a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult, you have a serious recipe for disaster in a very short amount of time,” Rollins said.
It’s a nationwide concern that is too common.
“It’s horrible. I’d like to know why,” parent Anne Scanlan said.
“We are supposed to love our children, not do anything to hurt them or harm them,” parent India Miller said.
Researchers say more than half of the hot car deaths were because a parent or caretaker was too preoccupied and simply forgot their child was in the car.
So far this year, two children have died after being left in hot cars for an extended period of time. The first incident happened in Miami in February, and the second was in North Charleston in April.
With the weather heating up, experts hope to warn parents before it’s too late.
Safety advocates are pushing for legislation to require new cars to be equipped with technology that alerts parents if a child is in the backseat when the car is turned off.
Children who have died in hot cars range in age from 5 days to 14.