Leaving children in hot cars during the summer poses dangerous risks and sometimes has fatal consequences, state police cautioned motorists Tuesday.
State police sent out the news release hours before Ridgefield police confirmed that a 15-month old died in the town after being left in a hot car Monday, marking the fourth case of a child being left in a hot car in recent weeks and the first fatality.
Temperatures can reach the triple digits in a car during the summer, police said.
"Studies on thermal injury to children show that 'dry heat' temperatures, within a closed vehicle, can become dangerous to small children and infants in only minutes," state police said in a statement. "A high level of humidity can reduce that time by one half."
Parents and guardians should not leave children in unattended locked cars or allow children to play unsupervised near an unlocked vehicle or trunk, particularly in the humid weather, state police said. According to state statutes, leaving a child under 12 years old alone in a motor vehicle "may result in a felony charge," state police said.
State police remind motorists to lock their vehicles and to check the front and back seats before doing so and walking away from a vehicle.
Connecticut has already experienced extreme heat and those high temperatures are likely to continue throughout the week, according to police.
NBC tested how long it would take for a car to reach 110 degrees and it took about 41 minutes.
"This type of weather should serve as a reminder that all parents, guardians, day care providers and babysitters should be educated about the severe dangers involved in leaving children in cars," State Police said.
Fifteen children have died in hot cars to date across the United States, police said. Forty-four children died nationwide last year because of heat-related deaths in cars. More than 500 children in the country died from hyperthermia from being in a hot car since 1998. Those statistics include babies, toddlers and children left alone in cars and others who were playing in cars.
State police ask anyone who observes a child alone in a hot car to call 911 because it is considered an emergency.
"You may help save a life," State Police said.