HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - On average, thirty-three children die each year from being left unattended in hot vehicles.
"We've had several incidents here in the city where we've gotten calls from the mall or the Walmart or different stores where a child has been left in a vehicle and somebody has seen it," says Hattiesburg Police Lieutenant Traxler. "Just this year we had an incident."
During the summer months, afternoon temperatures soar well into the nineties. Inside a closed vehicle, the internal temperature can reach up to fifty degrees higher. In these conditions, heat-related illness is unavoidable.
"It's kind of a continuum of illness: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke," explains Lisa Leek M.D., an emergency physician at Forrest General Hospital. "The people that you see that are most at risk are babies, infants, and then elderly people as well."
These tragic situations can easily be avoided. It is never safe to leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even for a few minutes. The Hattiesburg Police Department urges Pine Belt residents to be aware this summer and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see a child left alone in a car.