The warnings and horror stories about what happens when children or pets are forgotten have been circulated many times — as they will continue to.
But according to No Heat Stroke, a website that tracks the number of children who die of heatstroke after being in hot cars, that number is dropping.
The average number of deaths per year, according to the website, has been around 38 each year from 1998 to 2020, though in 2020 it only lists 25 deaths. Obviously, the best number would be zero, but it’s stories like these and other tactics that have helped raise people’s awareness of the danger of leaving a child in a car.
Last week, two families in Phoenix had a close brush with loss, but thanks to their immediate calls for help and the quick response of police, no lives were lost.
On July 6, when it was 102 degrees and rising, a mother called 911 to plead for help. She’d accidentally locked her keys in the van. The car was off, the windows were rolled up and her 2-year-old and 2-month-old were stuck inside.
In these sorts of situations, time is of the essence. It’s simply impossible to wait for someone to pick the door lock, and windows can be surprisingly hard to break without the right tools. Thankfully, Phoenix police showed up within minutes and were able to rescue the two children.
“Some officers carry with them tools which allow them to gain access to vehicles or residences during emergencies,” Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department told KPHO-TV. “In this case, our officer had a window punch which enabled him to break the window.
“Phoenix Fire personnel arrived and ensured that the kids were not in distress or had any other heat-related medical conditions. With our extreme heat, it only takes minutes for the interior temperatures to turn deadly. A window is replaceable, a life or the health of a baby is not.”
Once again the car was off, the windows were shut and her 2-year-old was trapped inside, strapped into his car seat as the temperature ticked up. But mom didn’t waste any time and contacted authorities immediately.
The 2-year-old only spent five minutes in the car before police arrived and broke the window. Even with the window broken, the door wouldn’t open, so one of the officers climbed in and retrieved the distraught — but alive — toddler.
“It’s such a helpless feeling,” Officer Mike Mehlhouse, one of the responding officers, said, according to an Inside Edition video. “I can imagine what she was feeling. I felt horrible for her and I felt horrible for the child.
“I’m just grateful to be out there to be able to help.”
“After he was checked out, it was great to see he was playing with his Legos and having a good time,” one of the other officers, Michael Coddington, added. “And it was great to see that resolution.”
Thankfully these moms knew to call for help right away. Police are still urging parents to be vigilant and stress that in the heat Arizona regularly experiences, it only takes minutes for a closed car to turn deadly.
“There’s never a quick enough moment to leave your child in the car,” Mehlhouse said. “In this heat, even a couple minutes is not OK.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.