Editorial: When it comes to the vulnerable and hot vehicles, be vigilant

Hot sun beating down. It’s that time of year — time when drivers need to take extra care not to leave young children, or vulnerable pets, behind in cars.

This time of year, it seems another story about a mother leaving a small child in a hot car comes up daily. And recently, an elderly man in Middletown left his pet dog to die in the hot car for the second time in three years.

Responsible and loving parents may feel they’d never forget their child and owners surely believe they take good care of their pets.

But still, it happens more frequently than we realize..

According to HeatKills.org, a car that is 70 degrees inside can go up to 89 degrees in 10 minutes, and over 100 in 30 minutes. A car that is 94 degrees inside can go up to almost 130 degrees in 30 minutes.

Changes in routine, fatigue, the distraction of some work or family crisis, or a combination of factors can put the parent’s brain on “automatic pilot” and the child — in the back, asleep in a rear-facing car seat — can be forgotten by an otherwise loving parents.

Never leave children in or around cars, even for a minute.

Keep empty cars locked, with keys and remote door-openers where kids can’t get them.

Develop the habit of looking in back before leaving a car.

When loading a car, put something — a cell phone, handbag, employee ID — in the back seat with the child.

Have firm predictable arrangements with childcare providers, and a pledge that if a child isn’t dropped off as expected, they will call.

When a child is missing, always check cars, including trunks, right away.

Do not leave your pet in a hot car, even with the window cracked, ever. It is so easy for us to become distracted with whatever errand we intend to run quickly and it is 30 minutes before you know it. Even if the pet is unharmed in the end, try sitting in a hot, enclosed car during the summer for even 10 minutes if you need convincing this is torture.

Upon seeing a child or a pet alone in a hot vehicle, call 911.