By Brenda Flanagan
A real 9-1-1 recording adds drama to this safety demo, broadcast over speakers.
The caller says, “There’s a baby left alone in a hot parked car, no parent in sight.”
The demo’s using an SUV parked in Long Branch to illustrate the case. Invited onlookers frown in alarm.
“If you tap on the window, does the baby respond to you?”
“No it doesn’t seem to be waking up! Is that OK?”
“We have help on the way. You did the right thing by calling.”
Long Branch police pull up, run to the rescue and remove two dolls from the car. It’s not real, but the crowd’s still shaken by the 9-1-1 call.
“I thought it was really powerful and sort of scary,” said Nette Phillips.
Phillips is with a group of new moms, invited to watch this demo by Monmouth Medical Center. Last year, 44 kids left in cars died of heatstroke in the U.S.
“I was thinking as we were listening to the call and my anxiety kept going up. And I knew it wasn’t a real baby in there. I still felt like I wanted to break that window,” said Phillips.
At 104 degrees, kidneys fail. At 107 degrees, kids die.
“It was difficult to listen to the 9-1-1 call, but once the police started coming, that’s when it got really hard for me to watch,” Colleen Sisinni said.
When this demo started, the temperature inside the big SUV was 79 degrees. It’s been about 20 minutes. Let’s take a look: the inside temperature is now 140.
“You can avoid heatstroke and injury by never ever leaving your child alone in a vehicle. Not even for a minute. And even if the window is open on a crack,” said Carol Ann Giardelli.
Safe Kids New Jersey’s Giardelli says most heatstroke fatalities — 51 percent — happen when parents forget kids in the car; 29 percent when kids climb inside vehicles and get locked in; 18 percent when parents intentionally leave kids in locked vehicles. Remember: temperatures inside a car can skyrocket in just a few minutes.
“Because a lot of times you hear, ‘Oh, I’ll only take 20 minutes and I’ll be in and out — you stay in the car.’ That’s a dangerous act,” said Dr. Renuka Verma.
To help remind you a kid’s on board, leave your wallet or purse next to them in the back seat. And if you ever see a child left alone in a car, cops and health officials say dial 9-1-1.