TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – On some Alabama summer days, it’s almost too hot to spend time outside. But it’s even hotter “inside”, when it comes to your car. Tuscaloosa firefighters want the public to understand how quickly a car can turn into what feels like an oven. So they did a little baking. Firefighters arranged trays of cookies inside of a car that was left in a sunny parking lot all Wednesday morning. By 11:00 am, the temperature inside the car had already climbed to 160 degrees.
Curious shoppers came by to ask about the cooking experiment. It’s exactly what the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service was hoping would happen. “As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” explains Chief Alan Martin. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle, but what is most tragic is the fact that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.”
Martin explains that a child’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than an adult. Heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. Although temperatures climbed into the low 90’s in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday afternoon, on an 80-degree day, a car can reach a deadly level of heat in just 10 minutes.
The trays of cookies were successfully baked and eaten by about 1:00 pm, and the temperature in the car continued to slowly climb throughout the day. Firefighters tell us, they wanted to do this demonstration in light of recent, highly-publicized cases where children died after being left in hot cars. In June, Justin Ross Harris, a Tuscaloosa native, was charged in Georgia for the murder of his 22-month-old son, Cooper, after he was left in a car for roughly seven hours.
They are urging parents or caregivers to do four things this summer: never leave a child in a vehicle unattended, even for a moment; make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car; always lock the car and put the keys out of reach; and if you see a child alone in a car, call 911 right away.
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