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GRFD reminds parents of danger of leaving children, pets in cars during extreme heat

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Posted at 1:27 PM, Aug 25, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After responding to two incidents of children locked inside vehicles in Wednesday’s “extreme heat,” the Grand Rapids Fire Department reminded the public of the dangers of leaving children and pets in cars.

Fire Chief Chief John Lehman says one of the children found, a nine-month-old infant, was "sweating profusely," adding it was estimated that the child had spent an hour in the vehicle by the time crews administered aid.

“The infant was conscious and alert, luckily, and EMS was called to the scene, and the ambulance transported the infant," says Lehman. "It looks like that could have been a narrowly averted tragedy.”

While no harm came to the children in these two cases, GRFD wants drivers to be alert and remember to double check these special passengers don’t get left behind.

Grand Rapids is in the middle of an excessive heat warning, with heat index temperatures in the triple digits.

The fire department “seriously recommends” leaving kids and pets at home when running errands so they can stay safe from the heat.

When it’s hot outside, cars’ internal temperatures can rise very quickly, even in the shade.

Parked in the sun, a car’s internal temperature can increase from 85 degrees to 116 degrees in just an hour and can reach 101 degrees in the shade.

City officials cited a 2005 study published in “Pediatrics” that found even rolling windows down might not make a difference.

When the car windows were closed in the study, the temperature rose 3.4 degrees per minute, and when the windows were rolled down about eight inches, the temperature still rose 3.1 degrees per minute.

“Unfortunately, we have seen parents who forget that their child or pet is in the back seat,” Fire Chief John Lehman said. “This usually happens because the family is not on their regular routine, parents are stressed or the child is sleeping and quiet.”

GRFD offered a few suggestions for parents to remind themselves of backseat passengers.

Mounting a special mirror can give parents a “perfect view” of their child or pet at all times.

A large stuffed animal riding shotgun can also serve as a reminder that one’s child is also riding along.

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