It's starting to warm up, and the rising temperatures bring a familiar risk: hot car injuries and death for children. In Vancouver, Washington, one mom came dangerously face to face with the prospect when she accidentally locked her keys in the trunk of her car while her baby was still buckled into the back seat.
That's when a good Samaritan named Sean Berk noticed her getting more and more frantic. Wanting to help, he called 911 and was told help would be on the way, but they would have to wait 15 minutes for someone to come unlock the car.
Wanting to get the baby out faster, our hero ran into the nearest store, a Ross Dress for Less, where he asked for something he could use to jimmy the lock through the car's open sunroof. The manager of course volunteered to do whatever was necessary to get the baby out, and all was well.
Oh, wait. Actually the manager basically told Sean to kick rocks. Berk told a local news channel that when he went into the store to ask for help, he got a flat out "no."
"I was just flabbergasted... I couldn't believe the manager refused to let me borrow something they weren't even using. Really shocked."
But all was not lost. Sean ran across to a Play It Again Sports, this time intending to buy something to jimmy the lock — a hockey stick — when that manager intervened. He gave Sean the exact item he was asking for over at Ross — a long metal rod used to hang clothing and merchandise on high racks.
That manager, Bryan Young, had a slightly more magnanimous take on the practice of letting strangers walk off with your long metal sticks:
"What would I have been out if he had broken it or wandered off with it? A $5 piece of metal. And he ended up bringing it back and shopping in the store before he went home. It was just people helping people who needed help."
All's well that ends well, and the baby was fine. Eventually the tow truck arrived and the keys were retrieved, but it bears repeating: A baby in a hot car is a very serious situation. The chances of your child drying in a hot car are low, but remember: It takes only 10 minutes for the temperature inside your car to climb 30 degrees higher.
Fortunately there are steps you can take to prevent the situation altogether, like making sure you keep something in the back seat that you need as a way to remind yourself that your child is there.
But what happens when you take every precaution? No one is perfect, and this mother made a mistake. It's actually a mistake I myself have made, and the panic you feel when it happens is unbelievable. What do you do when your kid, for better or worse, is locked in a hot car?
It's hard to do, but calm down. Don't freak your kid out or work yourself into a state where you can't think straight.
The story above is an example of people doing everything right. I'm not sure why a tow truck was sent as opposed to the fire department, but if your child is locked in the car for any reason, under any circumstances, call 911. Even if the A/C is on. Even if you think you'll look dumb. If you've locked your phone in as well, grab a stranger or run to the nearest store.
If you can, cover the windows with a blanket or other covering to keep the temperature from climbing too fast.
It's better to have a safety hammer if you must break tempered glass. But if things are becoming dire and you have to break a window, choose the one farthest from your child, and be mindful of your safety as well.
I'm sure we'll be hearing more and more of the same story this summer; a child locked in a hot car is becoming part of the summer vernacular. We can only hope that people will be as willing to help as Young and Berk.
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