Home Local News Richmond County Sheriff’s Office demonstrates vehicle heat danger

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office demonstrates vehicle heat danger

A digital display shows the temperature inside a Richmond County Sheriff's Office cruiser is 30 degrees warmer than outside the car. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Although summer is half over, Sheriff Mark Gulledge is reminding parents to not leave children unattended in vehicles.

On Thursday, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with the Mid-Carolinas Region of Safe Kids to set up a car temperature display in front of the old courthouse.

The driver’s side window of a patrol car was slightly cracked — just enough to allow room for a cable to connect a sensor on the dashboard to the thermometer outside.

The result shows that even on a cooler, cloudy day, temperatures inside a vehicle can be quite hot.

The digital display showed the outside temperature was 86.2 degrees Fahrenheit around 2 p.m. Inside the car, however, it was 116 — a difference of roughly 30 degrees.

According to Safe Kids, the temps inside a vehicle can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes and a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult.

An average of 39 children die from heat exposure inside vehicles each year across the U.S., according to Safe Kids. There have been 32 children to die in hot vehicles in North Carolina since 1998.

A majority of hot vehicle-related deaths (54%) happen because the child was forgotten by a parent or caregiver, according to Safe Kids. Nineteen percent were left in a vehicle intentionally, and 34% of children die after getting trapped while playing in a vehicle.

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The latter was the case last month in neighboring Scotland County.

On July 21, a 2-year-old got out of the house while the mother was sleeping and climbed into an unused vehicle in the yard, according to the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators say the child was found unresponsive and flown to a hospital, but was pronounced brain dead a few days later. That case is still under investigation.

There have been no such local cases this year, according to officials with the RCSO and Rockingham and Hamlet police departments.

Safe Kids offers three main tips to prevent pediatric heatstroke deaths:

AVOID heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.

CREATE reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child.

TAKE action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations.”

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