Common sense -- and laws in some places -- tell us that small children shouldn't be left in cars alone. Ever. Not just this once, or just for "a sec" It only takes a few minutes for things to go terribly wrong, and a recent close call in Orem, Utah, illustrates one of the reasons why.
Last week, Gail Belliston was walking out of a store when she heard a child screaming from a car. According to the Deseret News, the child was terrified and sweating profusely, so after a few minutes of seeing no one coming for the kid, Belliston pulled her out. Thank goodness she did too, because testing showed the temperature in the car had reached 110 degrees.
Police were called, but the mom didn't show up until 20 minutes after they arrived.
The woman said she'd just gone inside to use the restroom and that her daughter was sleeping so she didn't want to wake her up. But police say the girl was left alone at least 25 minutes, so it's pretty easy to deduce that she did some shopping or something else too.
Regardless of what she was doing, there's no excuse for what she did. It was reportedly around 88 degrees outside, but temperatures rise rapidly inside a closed car. If Belliston hadn't intervened, who knows how long the little girl would have survived.
Even more concerning is that the mother was only issued a ticket for a misdemeanor, but the girl was sent home with her.
Fortunately, this story had a somewhat happy ending, despite the fear I have for this girl being in the custody of someone who would be so reckless with her safety. But there are plenty of other instances in which there isn't a heroic stranger passing by to save a child.
Already this year, four children have died from hyperthermia after being left in a car in the United States, according to Jan Null, with San Francisco State University's Department of Geosciences. In 2011, 33 children died as a result of it.
So while leaving a child in a car alone is never a good idea, it's especially important to remember as temperatures climb higher. It's dangerous, potentially deadly, and nothing is worth the risk.
Do you ever leave your small children in the car alone?
Image via .reid/Flickr