Police and Kupchick: Dangers of leaving kids and pets in hot cars

With the hot months in full swing both Fairfield Police Chief MacNamara and State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) held an informational press conference at the Fairfield Police Department headquarters on the dangers of leaving children and pets in hot cars this summer. Joining them, was First Selectman Tetreau, LT Jimmy Perez, Animal Control Paul Miller and Joe Michaelangelo, director of Public Works.

Rep. Kupchick, Chief MacNamara and Animal Control Officer Paul Miller have been working to design a Public Safety Awareness Program to remind residents about the dangers of leaving children and animals in cars.

New awareness signs have been developed and throughout the summer Fairfield police will be visiting local businesses to request they help by posting a sign. They come in a larger metal style for outdoor use and decal style for businesses to post inside their windows facing out. We are also working to make up car magnets.

Rep. Kupchick said, “If you know a business that may be interested or own a business in Fairfield, let me know and I’ll be happy to drop one by. It is my hope that through a combination of awareness and enforcement we can prevent anymore tragedies.”

Although Connecticut historically has few cases of children dying after being left unattended, the issue made national headlines last year when 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz, of Ridgefield, died after his father left him in a hot car for hours, sparking debate on existing state law.

In recent years Connecticut has also seen an uptick in reports from people who see dogs in hot cars.

According to the website www.KidsandCars.org <http://www.KidsandCars.org> there were 44 documented cases of children who died of heatstroke in cars in 2013. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body. A car can heat up 19 degrees in only 10 minutes, even despite a crack in the window.

Chief MacNamara said, “I believe a simple reminder could make the difference in saving a life. The signs should also give confidence to the public to call police if they see a child or a dog, cat or any animal in a hot car”.

The national statistics show that 52 percent of children who die of heatstroke in cars are due to forgetfulness by a caregiver. Twenty nine percent are due to a child’s playing in an unattended car and 18 percent are due to an adult’s intentionally leaving a child in a car.

Connecticut has a law on the books against leaving child unsupervised in place of public accommodation or motor vehicle. This law makes it a Class A misdemeanor (up to a year in prison and up to a $2,000 fine) when any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years who knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in a place of public accommodation or a motor vehicle for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child’s health or safety.

According to Fairfield Police Chief MacNamara, in 2013 the Fairfield Police Department made three arrests for cruelty to animals as a result of dogs being left unattended in hot cars. Unfortunately this year they are beginning to see reports of dogs in hot cars continue.

Kupchick added, “What can you do to help? If you have children, and/or pets, never leave them unattended in a car. Not even for a minute! Even if you don’t have kids or pets you can help. Spread the word to neighbors and friends of the danger. Pay attention to parking areas when you leave your car. If you see a child or pet left in a car, call the police!”

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