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Hot cars pose serious danger to kids

August 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is a push to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car in Southern California. Kaitlin Russell died of heat exposure after being left unattended in a closed van nine years ago. Since then, the baby Kaitlin's family has been campaigning; trying to make sure other children don't become statistics through education and legislation.

"It's the unattended child in motor vehicles safety act. It makes it illegal in the state of California to leave a child six years of age, or younger, unattended in a motor vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years of age," said Laura Peterson, Kaitlin's grandmother.

Experts say the difference between the temperature outside and the temperature inside a car can be staggering.

"A temperature in a vehicle raises about 19 to 20 degrees in ten minutes. And as you can see by the thermometer that we have here the outside temperature is 95 the inside of our van is 130 degrees," said Kim Patrick, Safe Kids Coordinator. "That thermometer has been in there for about an hour. So within an hour's worth of time the temperature in the car has become deadly for children being left inside."

In many cases, if a baby is sleeping in the backseat, the driver forget may they're there. Some also misjudge how long they'll be leaving the child unattended.

"If you have a child and you are not used to taking them to daycare or the grocery store and you're tired ... put something in the backseat," said Patrick. "Put the diaper bag, your purse, your cell phone, whatever it is that will get you to go into the backseat and remind you that there is a child there."

So far this year, 24 children have died after being left alone in a closed vehicle nationwide.

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