Doctors warn parents not to leave kids in hot cars as warmer weather sets in

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Injury prevention doctors at Riley Hospital for Children are getting ahead of the issue before a child dies after being left in a hot car.

Dr. Joe O'Neil wants to get this message out to parents early: it's never okay to leave a child in a car alone and a hot car can have deadly consequences.

As the temperatures go up, so do the chances for a child to become the victim of heat stroke or suffocating in a hot car.

"Once a child's internal temperature gets over 100 to 104, organs start shutting down and by the time the child's internal body temperature gets to 107, it's very close to being fatal for that child," Dr. O'Neil said.

We hear these kinds of stories every summer. Doctors want parents to have this on their minds so we hopefully don't have to report more cases of children dying after being left in a hot car.

"With the door closed and the windows rolled up and even with just a little crack, within 10 minutes a vehicle temperature inside can go up by 20 to 30 degrees," Dr. O'Neil said.

Nationwide, 42 children ages 5 days to 14 years old died last year from heatstroke or suspected heatstroke while left in cars. Dr. O’Neil says he doesn't think parents leave children in hot cars intentionally.

"We have seen that it's when a parent is doing something out of their routine, when they're dropping off a child at day care that they don't normally do and they get distracted and they forget the child is in the backseat and they go on about their business with tragic consequences for that child," Dr. O'Neil said.

He says there are ways to avoid daily distractions and remember your child.

"Take your cell phone, put it in the back. Take your purse or your briefcase and put it in the back. Those are important things to do because it will force you to get what you need and you will see the child is there."

According to the National Safety Council, more than half of children who die in hot cars are forgotten and left behind by adults.

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