Recent stories about young children being left in cars during extreme heat have been headline news across Connecticut. It came to a head yesterday when Ridgefield police say a 15-month-old boy died after he was left in a hot car for an extended period of time. Police say the child died Monday at around 6 p.m. Police did not identify the location where the car was parked, but said it happened in Ridgefield. The child's name has also not been released. An autopsy is being done to determine the official cause of death.
Daytime temperatures have climbed well into the 80s and close to 90 degrees inland just about every day this month. However, inside a car, the mercury could possibly reach 107 degrees with an outside air temperature of 90 degrees in just 20 minutes. In fact, the temperature could rise to almost 120 degrees inside a hot vehicle within one hour. Take a look at the following graphic provided by the National Weather Service office in New York.
More than three dozen children die of hyperthermia in cars every year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since 1998, more than 500 children have died from hyperthermia after being in a hot automobile, Connecticut State Police noted. Ridgefield Police Captain Jeff Kreitz said yesterday the boy had been left inside the car for an "extended period of time." He declined to provide further details and did not say whether criminal charges were being considered.
Unfortunately, there have been other instances this week of children being left alone in cars. Two children were found by a New London police officer dripping sweat and reddened from the heat after they were left in a hot car Tuesday afternoon. Police say a car in the area of 200 State Street caught an officer’s attention close to 5 p.m. because the driver’s side rear door kept opening and shutting very quickly. When the officer investigated, he found a six-year-old and a nine-year-old in the car without any adults around. They were dripping with sweat, and their faces were reddened from the heat, police said.
Police say 27-year-old Cassandra Donnejour Nonossiold left an infant and a toddler inside of vehicle at a North Haven Target parking lot around 9:30 Monday night. According to a press release, Nonossiold allegedly brought one child into the store with her, but she left the infant and toddler because she didn’t want to wake them. According to police, Nonossoild allegedly locked the doors and left the windows cracked, then left the infant and toddler for 16 minutes while she shopped. A concerned passerby noticed and called 9-1-1.
Unfortunately, it takes a death close to home to emphasize how important it is not to leave children, elderly, or pets in cars during the hot Summer months. The temperature will soar to close to 120 degrees inside the vehicle in just one hour. I know from sitting in a parked car with the windows open how unbearably hot it can get. Please exercise extreme caution in the heat this Summer.