Online Originals: ‘Never Leave Your Child Alone’ event spreads awareness of hot car fatalities

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — On Thursday, Vidant Medical Center partnered with Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children, the Pitt County Health Department and Greenville Fire/Rescue for its “Never Leave Your Child Alone” event.

The mission is to educate the community about car heat safety.

Vidant Medical Center Injury Prevention Program Coordinator Ellen Walston said they’ve been tracking the statistics of these incidents since 1998. Since then, there have been 888 children killed from being left in hot cars nationally. This year alone, five children have lost their lives due to overheating in cars. Walston said that’s too many.

Walston also said 53% of those cases are truly accidental. But 23%, are, unfortunately, intentional.

The group held a live demonstration of just how quickly a car’s temperature can rise to extreme temperatures. The temperature outside was right at 90 degrees. After being set in a car for just 10 minutes, it skyrocketed to 110 degrees. After 45 minutes, temperatures reached a whopping 145 degrees.

Lt. Derrick Ingram with Greenville Fire/Rescue said in the summer months, the heat index can reach 100 in Eastern North Carolina.

“In just milliseconds, it can turn into a very fatal accident or incident,” Ingram said.

In fact, right before attending the event, Greenville Fir/Rescue responded to a call about this very type of situation. A child was locked in a car at Burlington Coat Factory. It was an accident and the child was able to unlock the car and get out before emergency services arrived.

Walston’s tip for parents, guardians and pet owners is to put something like your wallet, purse, or phone in the backseat of your car so you have to check that backseat before exiting and locking your car.

“If you see something, say something. If you see a child or pet in the car, please call 911 and alert someone,” Ingram said.

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