When parents leave their children inside hot cars, horrible things can happen. Disturbing recent cases, such as this one in Georgia, have shined new light and attention on the serious hazards of this type of parental negligence. Most parents know that it’s inadvisable and illegal to leave young children unattended in hot vehicles. However, the quest for convenience and forgetfulness borne of fatigue and overwhelm can drive some parents to make awful decisions.
These parents may believe that cracking the windows and leaving children "for only a few minutes" while they run into a store poses little to no risk. However, mild temperatures can quickly rise to oven-like heights inside an enclosed structure like a vehicle. Within as few as ten minutes, car interiors can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, putting children at risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or death.
Alternatives to Leaving Children in a Hot Car
To prevent leaving children inside the car on a warm or hot day, consider measures such as:
• Leaving kids with a babysitter or relative, if their presence on particular errands would be too inconvenient.
• Removing children from the car before unloading groceries or other parcels.
• Placing a diaper bag or the child’s backpack on the front seat as a visual reminder children are in the car.
How Maryland and Virginia Laws Govern Summer Car Safety
The Maryland DMV indicates leaving children alone in vehicles is a dangerous proposition, especially in extreme (cold or hot) temperatures. In addition, the DMV worries that unattended children may attempt to “play” in or operate the vehicle, endangering themselves and others.
Authorities in Maryland and in the Virginia Commonwealth encourage citizens to contact the police, should they encounter children left unattended in locked vehicles. They should remain with the vehicle in question until law enforcement officers arrive.
The safety of one’s children should be top priority. Communicate these policies to anyone caring for your child to ensure their safety in any circumstance.
When childcare providers or daycare workers leave children in their cars or vans, the results can be devastating. If such an action impacted your child, contact a D.C. attorney at Regan, Zambri & Long, LLP to discuss your legal options.