Lowcountry town using PSA to remind everyone of hot car dangers

Crime & Safety

BLUFFTON, SC (WSAV) – With the soaring temperatures we’re seeing, there is a renewed effort to prevent hot car deaths.

One local community is offering a visual reminder of the dangers.

74 animals died last year in hot cars.

52 children died last year after being left in a hot car. 6 of those in South Carolina.

It’s a number the town of Bluffton hopes to change this year.

“More than 50% of people who leave their child in a vehicle they forget the child is there. So they didn’t do it intentionally but they left it there.”

“Responsibility is yours to begin with and it ends with you,” says Bluffton Fire Department Captain Lee Levesque.

That’s the message the town of Bluffton wants drivers to know when it comes to leaving children or animals in hot cars.

“Within an hour if its 57 degrees outside, the inside a car can still reach 100 degrees,” said Joy Nelson, Bluffton Community Relations Manager.

“In just a matter of minutes temperatures can rise 4 times faster in an infant than an adult and that can lead to disastrous results,” said Levesque.

Experts say a child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body. 80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes.

The town demonstrated just that in a public service announcement about to come out.

A doll and Justice the police dog were left inside a car with 100 degree temperatures outside.

Inside the number got all the way up to 180 degrees.

“If you consider the fact that the human body is 80% water and you start adding temperature to water it starts boiling and boiling off and what happens when you get that water up to 150-160 degrees in a child’s or pets body it starts to deteriorate, kills cells and shuts down parts of the body that are necessary,” said Levesque.”You get the kidneys first and then the heart surely you want to make sure that works and then the brain is affected poorly.”

Don’t think just because you cracked the window it helps.

The inside of a vehicle heats up quickly,

Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.

“The windows cracked doesn’t give them enough fresh air and that air that does come in and is excessively hot as well,” explains Levesque.

If you are in Bluffton and want to leave that car running with the air conditioning on? you have another problem.

“It is illegal in the Town of Bluffton to leave an unattended vehicle running,” said Nelson. “The citations that an individual can receive can be up to $1000 for leaving a child or a pet inside a vehicle. Police look at that as animal cruelty or hindering a child’s welfare.”

So what should you do to remind yourself of these dangers, and those children or animals?

“Take an object, take your cell phone, take your purse,” explains Nelson. “Men take your wallet out of your pocket and put it next to that child in the backseat. That way you will remember both important items.”

The Bluffton Police Department is also handing out bright yellow “child inside” hangtags if you would like a different kind of reminder.

Levesque says don’t be afraid to call 911 if you see a child or animal in a hot car and think they are in distress.

But remember, don’t break that window on your own, wait for police or firefighters.

Because if you do it incorrectly it could spray glass on those inside and you could end up civilly liable for the damage to that person’s car.

Congressional lawmakers are now looking at a “hot car act” which would require most vehicles to come with an alert system to detect an animal or child left in the back seat.

55 Democrats and 2 Republicans sponsoring the bill are optimistic it can pass the house soon before another child dies.

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