Ohio laws failing to curb hot car deaths, National Safety Council study reports

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - The summer-like temperatures we've been seeing lately in Northeast Ohio can quickly turn cars into ovens.

Forty-two children died in hot cars last year and all of those deaths could've been prevented.

A just-released report by the National Safety Council shows hot car deaths are on the rise and many states don't have laws addressing the problem. Ohio ranks near the bottom when it comes to laws protecting children from being knowingly left alone in cars.

Thursday evening, temperatures were around 86 degrees in Cleveland. It only takes 10 minutes for temperatures inside a car to jump 20 deadly degrees.

"The car acts like an incubator and keeps the heat in," said T.J. Martin, Parma Fire Department Public Information Officer. "At 104 degrees, your internal organs start shutting down. So, at 104 degrees, it's almost too late. Which, on an 80-degree day, if it increases 19 degrees in 10 minutes, you're almost done at that point."

The National Safety Council reports between 1998 and 2017, 742 children died after being left in hot cars.

There was already a close call in Cleveland Heights in May when a child was left inside a car on a 90-degree day. Data shows numbers are on the rise.

Martin said parents who are worried about leaving their children in the backseat should put something back there with them, like a bag or even a shoe, that way you won't get far from the car without remembering you're leaving someone behind.

According to the study, many states, including Ohio, don't have laws in place to protect children left in hot cars. Ohio ranks near the bottom with a D. The only law Ohio has in place is the Good Samaritan law, which protects people who rescue kids from hot cars.

"We haven't been proactive enough across the state to create laws that increase the fines or increase the awareness of a child that may perish in the backseat of a car," said Martin.

No states received an A ranking, but many scored higher than Ohio did. Some other states that scored higher have unattended child laws, which can be felonies if a child is knowingly left alone. The report said 18 percent of kids who died in hot cars were purposely left alone.

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