Safety experts say clear, definitive laws need to be made to prevent child hot car deaths

Posted at 8:48 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 08:18:35-04

Year after year we continue to hear stories nationwide, about children being left alone in hot cars. Every year, 37 children on average die nationwide from pediatric vehicular heatstroke, or PVH, as a result of being left in hot cars.

As we approach the official start of summer, News 5 took a deeper dive into the previous hot car deaths in Northeast Ohio and the major loopholes that exist in the law that keep allowing these preventable deaths to happen.  

Within days of each other, two children in Northeast Ohio were recently left alone in hot cars. The first happened on May 28 in Cleveland Heights. According to a police report, an autistic boy was found extremely flushed inside a car outside a Home Depot. It was 90 degrees outside.

Police arrested Paul Bayer who said he “forgot” the child was inside the car as he proceeded to do his shopping.

The second account happened on June 1 when deputies responded to a child left inside a vehicle outside of Gold Mine Gaming in Canton. Police said Corian Grimes, now accused of leaving the child in the car, left him alone for two hours.

Studies show that even on a 70 degree day, temperatures inside a car can rise above 100 degrees in 20 minutes. With figures like that, it’s easy for children to bake inside a vehicle, even if it’s not necessarily hot outside.

Amy Artuso from the National Safety Council said there have been 19 hot car deaths in Ohio since 1998.

"Ohio does not have an unattended child law. So, that's definitely something we would like to see happen,” Artuso said. 

However, the Good Samaritan Law passed in 2016 allows people passing by or first responders to break windows to get children or pets out of hot cars. It's a good start to making sure kids aren't left to fend for themselves in torturous temperatures, but Artuso said we still need a more concrete law. 

"We want to see laws that clearly define what constitutes a child, what constitutes a responsible person, what defines unattended,” Artuso said.

According to the National Safety Council, it only takes ten minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to rise 20 degrees. For a child, that 20 degrees could easily lead to death.

Safe Kids Worldwide encourages adults to create reminders for themselves in the backseat next to their children, such as leaving a purse, or your left shoe.