A baby doll strapped into a car seat in the back of a Henderson Fire Department vehicle sat in direct sunlight for 30 minutes.
A thermometer next to the doll marked the rising temperature that peaked at 120 degrees, but Henderson fire Capt. Daniel Pentkowski said it likely was even hotter.
The Tuesday morning demonstration underscored the goal of the department’s Check Your Seats in the Heat campaign, aimed at preventing children from being left in hot cars during the summer. As temperatures climb, residents need to know the potentially fatal consequences of leaving a child in a locked vehicle , Pentkowski said.
“It’ll increase over 10 minutes about 30 to 40 degrees above outside temperatures,” he said of a vehicle’s quickly rising interior temperature. “That is immediately dangerous to the life of a child.”
Heatstroke can occur in a matter of minutes, and small children are especially at risk because they cannot regulate their body temperatures or remove themselves from the situation, Pentkowski said.
The National Safety Council said 52 children died in locked vehicles nationwide in 2018, though none were reported in Clark County.
Reports of children left in locked cars often occur when the child’s supervision is not part of the adult’s routine, Pentkowski said.
He recommends that adults leave their phone or purse in the back seat with the child as a reminder to remove the youngster upon reaching their destination. While seniors and pets are also at an increased risk of heatstroke, no one should stay in a locked car in the sun, Pentkowski advised.
Tuesday’s event at the department’s training center marks the 10th year of the campaign, and Pentkowski noted the public can play a major role.
“You can 100 percent prevent this,” he said. “If you see a child in a locked car with no adult, that’s an immediate emergency and you should call 911.”