CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
It's hard for parents like Kat Smith to imagine accidentally leaving a child in the car while going about her day.
"I cannot think that I could ever do that, but I suppose anything is possible," says Smith.
In today's hectic world we hear about it happening often, even on hot days. As summer approaches, Smith makes a habit of cooling down the car before buckling her kids in.
"Once you sit in the [hot] car and you have a hard time taking a breath, how do you imagine your child would feel," adds Smith.
According to San Jose State University's Department of Meteorology & Climate Science, since 1998 more than 630 children in the U.S. have died from heat stroke in vehicles--an average of 37 per year.
Ken Wilkerson, director of Hamilton County Emergency Management Services. He says it's never a good idea to leave children in a hot car, even for only a few minutes.
"You may get back to the car and they just look a little sleepy, a little lethargic, but they're already in the throws of heat related illness," says Wilkerson. Children are highly prone to heat stroke due to their small body masses.
According to General Motors and San Francisco State University studies, on an 80° day the temperature inside an non-air conditioned vehicle can soar to nearly 100° in just 10 minutes and to almost 115 degrees in 30 minutes.
There are car seats available that connect to smart phone apps and alert you if you leave your child in the car. However, simply placing something that you have to take with you on the back seat can help those who are forgetful.
"Leave your phone, leave your wallet. Something with that child," suggests Wilkerson.
"Recently on Facebook I read a story that one lady started taking a shoe off before she started to drive and put it in the back seat next to her child," recalls Smith.
Smith and Wilkerson urge all parents to be vigilant, especially as summer nears.
"Children are a precious gift," says Smith.
"That child looks to you for everything," adds Wilkerson.
For more information on heat safety for children, visit this web site.