The dangers of leaving your child in a hot car

A news reporter films what it feels like when you're trapped in a car in hot weather...

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We’ve all heard the horrible stories of things going wrong when children are left in hot cars for a significant period of time. Or even of things nearly going wrong – as when Essex firefighters recently had to smash a car window to rescue a child left alone in a hot car in Saffron Walden (June 2019.)

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We should point out that we’re not really talking about those in-the-moment, ‘briefly nipping into the shops for two seconds’ decisions we’ve all grappled with at some point. It’s no secret that that can be a quite divisive topic: some of us may see no harm in it; others wouldn’t dream of taking the risk.

Rather, we’re talking about those significantly lengthier amounts of time when babies or young children are left in cars in high temperatures. Many of those stories seem to come from the US, where in many states the weather can be significantly hotter than in the UK.

But it can happen closer to home, as the Saffron Walden near-miss shows – and, tragically, as happened in Ireland when a 7-month-old baby has died in a hot car in Ireland on one of the hottest days of 2017.

To highlight the issue around hot car deaths, a US news reporter, Jenna Jaynes, posted a video where she tested out what it would be like for a child to be stuck in a hot car – by getting ‘trapped’ in the car herself.

Jenna took to social media to describe what she’d experienced during her experiment:

“In 84°F [28°c] heat, I sat in a hot car for 30 minutes to see what it might be like for a trapped child,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

“By the end, it was over 130°F [54°C] and I was SOAKED with sweat. Two days later, I still haven’t fully recovered.

“By 20 minutes in I started crying. I knew I only had 10 minutes left and could open the door to escape. A child can’t. And that is devastating. No child should be trapped.”

If the Facebook pics weren’t clear enough, you can see Jenna visibly becoming more physically and emotionally distressed as the minutes pass in the video below…

Jenna also pointed out that younger bodies heat up much faster than adult ones, which is a worrying thought when you see how quickly Jenna began to sweat.

She also told her fellow reporters that she didn’t ‘really feel comfortable’ sitting in the back seat of a car again.

We reckon Jenna’s video is a really important one to watch, especially as we approach the summer.

What do you think? Have you ever left your child in the car for a few minutes? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter

Images: Jenna Jaynes/Facebook

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