Stillwater News Press

June 4, 2010

Child's death sparks reminder: Don't leave kids in cars this summer

Toddler's death in hot car prompts charge in Lincoln County

By Anita Pere
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — As summertime heats up, so do cars and the dangers they pose.

In neighboring Lincoln County, a  woman has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after an child left in her care died in a hot car.

Jessica Holmes, 20, was supposed to drop off her roommate's 2-year-old daughter, Atrinity Hasbell, at a Meeker day care May 25 when Holmes dropped off her own two children. The girl was later found still in the hot van. The outside temperature was about 90 that day, according to the Associated Press.

Stillwater police Capt. Randy Dickerson said the temperature inside a car can "sky rocket in just a few minutes, causing extreme dangers for people or animals." Stillwater police haven't frequently dealt with children being left in cars, Dickerson said.

No one should ever be left in a closed, parked vehicle, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health website.

Children and people 65 and older might be more susceptible to heat-induced illness than others, the website states. People with mental and physical illnesses, including those with heart disease and high blood pressure, could also be at a greater risk of heat-illnesses than healthier adults.

Temperatures were expected to reach 95 today and 97 Saturday.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, “even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death.”

When traveling with children, the CDC says, remember to do the following:

    * Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.

* To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.

* When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

      *Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress.

*Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.