VIDEO: CHP Warns How Children Die Inside Closed Cars

Los Altos residents seem very aware that in summer heat, leaving a child alone for just a few minutes can have devastating effects, local police say.

Since March, 21 children have died from being left in a sweltering car, even with windows cracked open. And the and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital officials warned this week that this could happen to anyone.

A car’s interior temperature can rise 50 degrees in 50 minutes, posing even higher dangers for young children and infants, who don’t sweat as much as adults. The car’s dashboard absorbs the heat and the car becomes an oven, said VisibleKIDS founder David Bell.

VisibleKIDS began as a hobby for Bell back in 2000 when he wanted to raise awareness about how easy it is to forget a child in your car. He creates 24” visible cones that remind drivers that there is a child in the backseat. Also, it acts as an alert to passersby that there may be a child in the backseat. Bell sells the VizKID on Amazon, in Menlo Park and in San Mateo, or you can visit www.visiblekids.com.

The national, non-profit organization 4 R Kids Sake has also designated August as “Purple Ribbon Month,” to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. CHP officers will attach a purple ribbon to the antenna of their patrol cars as a "gentle reminder" to not leave children in the vehicle, according to a CHP press release. It is part of a campaign to remember 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell who died Aug. 15, 2000, when she was left alone in her babysitter’s car for about two hours.

“Kaitlyn’s Law” in the California Vehicle Code provides for a fine of $100 for anyone who leaves a child 6 years or younger inside a vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old.

In Los Altos, awareness about the dangers of inside temperatures seems particularly high, said Sgt. John Korges. In fact parents who have accidentally locked their keys in the car are often the first to call police, Korges said, worried about the safety of their children. Residents also tend to contact police if they observe a pet inside a locked car. "A lot of people proactive on that—dogs in cars—and we respond to check on the welfare of the animal."

- Los Altos Patch Editor L.A. Chung contributed to this report

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