The Garden City Telegram
7/20/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Heat threat

Ongoing toll in young lives proves need for restrictions.

When temperatures soar, even a brief oversight can prove deadly.

So it’s been with tragedies across the nation as children were left alone in overheated vehicles.

Already this year, reports show 20 youngsters died after being left unattended on a hot day. Sadly, a number of parents and guardians apparently thought it OK to leave the children in a vehicle, even though interior heat temperature can skyrocket to the point of leading to heat stroke, internal organ failure and death.

And some adults simply became preoccupied and forgot they had children in the car. When a child is placed in the backseat for a drive, it helps to leave some sort of visual reminder — a teddy bear or toy — in view in the front seat as a reminder.

While we’d hope common sense and personal responsibility would be enough to ward off such horrific outcomes, some adults apparently still think leaving children in the heat for a short time won’t hurt.

People need to understand how perilous it is to sit in a car on a hot day — especially for children, who don’t have an adult’s ability to cool off.

Other threats loom when youngsters are left unsupervised, such as crashes caused by a child putting a vehicle in gear. Or, vehicles can be stolen with children in tow.

A number of states have made the sensible decision to enact laws that prohibit people from leaving children alone in vehicles.

Kansas has laws to address child endangerment. But every state still needs a law specifically designed to deter people from leaving children alone in a motor vehicle. Laws that do address the issue raise awareness of the danger, and could encourage parents and guardians to be more vigilant when hot weather strikes.

Extreme heat is nothing new in Kansas. Lawmakers interested in doing their utmost to keep children safe should want to put additional safeguards in place. A ban on leaving a child alone in a car or truck would be a sensible move in that direction.

Young lives, after all, warrant all the protection society can provide.