No, it is not okay to lock your kids in the car.
We see a lot of headlines about dogs being left in hot cars. We see a lot of dogs in cars with their heads hanging out the window, tongues and tails wagging as they wait for their humans to come back for them. It makes us nervous, and it makes us angry! So the idea of leaving children locked in a hot car? It's just as upsetting, if not more so, and a Maryland woman did just that!
Not just one kid, but seven children were locked in her car while she went shopping in the St. Charles Towne Center, a shopping center in Waldorf on the afternoon of May 10.
The children, all under the age of 5, were stuck inside the car with the windows rolled up and the temperatures outside climbing to 80 degrees. One child, presumably the oldest at the age of 4, while not able to escape the car, was able to call 911 and tell authorities that he and his friends were hot and unsure of their location. Using GPS, the 911 dispatcher was able to locate the car. The car was not running.
The Charles County police, EMS, and fire departments arrived on the scene. Police helped the children out of the car – the youngest of which was only two years old. Treatment was provided on the scene, and the children are all right.
The driver ambled back to her car about 10 minutes after the rescue, where she was charged with the confinement of children in the vehicle. Two of the kids were hers, and the other five were children she was supposed to be babysitting. She had left them alone in the vehicle for at least 30 minutes. The Department of Social Services is now involved to investigate; further charges are pending. Her identity remains undisclosed to maintain the privacy of the young children involved in the event.
In case you need a reminder as we move into the warmer months, it is always illegal to leave children under the age of 8 alone in a motor vehicle if the parent or caregiver is out of sight. You may do so if a responsible person, 13 years or older, is with them. However, it is highly dangerous to leave anyone or anything, pet or human, in a hot car. Temperatures within vehicles can become deadly in a matter of minutes.
Reportedly, about 52 children died of heatstroke in 2018 from being left in a hot car. Vehicular heatstroke can happen through negligence or by accident! Be wary of who is in your backseat, but also be wary of who is in the other cars in the parking lot. It's your responsibility to say something if you see a young child locked in a car. It can be a matter of life or death in just a few minutes.
If you need to, brush up on your summer car safety tips here. Be cautious and safe this summer!