It may have been commonplace and a socially acceptable act during the 1970’s to leave a child in the car (not during the summer months), while the driver ran some errands (bank deposit, grocery store for milk, etc.), but today this act comes with severely legal and even deadly consequences.
The legal issue regarding a child unattended in a vehicle will depend on the state, outside temperature, the age of the child, and how long the adult was away from the vehicle. While in some cases, leaving a young teenager in the car alone on a day that is 65 degrees or cooler, while withdrawing from an ATM may be acceptable, it would not be legal or safe to leave a two (2) year old in a car alone on a balmy 90 degree day, while you shop for 20 minutes.
It is just NOT safe to leave a child unattended in a locked car alone. In fact, more than 30 children a year die, due to this type of decision. A young child can become overwhelmed by the heat in an automobile very quickly (less than 5 minutes). Due to their small size, their body will heat up much quicker than adults. The heat within a closed vehicle is 30 degrees hotter than the temperature outside. In fact, even on cool days (60 degrees outside), the temperature within a vehicle can rise to close to 100 degrees.
If another adult has negligently left your child in a car that has caused your child pain, suffering or injury you should seek legal assistance. Attorneys such as Keith Williams Law Group specialize in child injury cases, and will be in the best position to advise you.
Some unforeseen dangers and deadly consequences of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle include:
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, if not treated immediately. Children, in particular, are vulnerable to heat exhaustion, due to the fact, that their small respiratory system is still developing.
Heat Stroke can be life threatening to a child, if not treated immediately. Even on a cool 60 degree day, the interior of a vehicle can quickly rise to over 100 degrees.
Suffocation is a common result of children being left in a locked vehicle unattended. Once the oxygen within the vehicle begins to deplete, the suffocation process begins. The type of weather or the temperature will not prevent this from happening. It is important to note, that even if the windows are open, to allow for air to circulate, that it is not OK for children to be left unattended in a vehicle.
Self-Injury is also a common result of leaving children unattended in a vehicle. Among other things, their limbs, fingers, and head could get caught in a power window.
Seat Belt Entanglement dangers increase, when a child is left unattended in a vehicle. In most cases, seat belts have auto locking abilities, and this makes it very easy for children to become trapped and entangled. It is vitally important, that children are taught that seat belts are not toys and should be trained in their proper use.
Trunk Entrapment. Some backseats of vehicles are interconnected with the trunk, and can be easily accessible by children left alone in cars. The trunk is a very dangerous place, as suffocation can happen within seconds, and toxic fumes may leak into the trunk and poison your child.
Tragedies relating to children being left unattended in a closed vehicle are highly preventable.