Warning about leaving kids in hot cars following tragic death

It’s a warning for parents about the dangers of leaving children in hot cars after a toddler died over the weekend in Northern California. 

As the sun beat down in a parking lot in San Jose, parents buckled their children in their car seats with a little extra TLC reminded of how fast and how high temperatures could rise inside their cars.

“I can't even imagine,” said Parent Nicole Aghassi. “We always start the car beforehand and get it nice and cool.”

“I couldn't imagine ever leaving my kid alone in a car especially not in the middle of summer,” said Parent Sean Sinykin. 

On Saturday, tragedy struck a south Sacramento neighborhood, a 2-year-old boy was found unconscious in his family's hot car. Authorities suspect the toddler got in the car on his own. A small memorial sits in front of his home.

"Thirty to 50 kids every year this is going to happen to them,” said Alison Bridger, San Jose State Meteorology Department Chair. 

Bridger calls it the greenhouse effect.

“Sunlight comes through the glass, heats up the seat, the vinyl, the dashboard, the steering wheel,” said Bridger. “As everything heats up, it radiates heat into the cabin itself.”

She said if it's 90 degrees outside, it could get as hot as 130 degrees inside a car within minutes.

“It can happen to anybody, the best parents, the worst parents everyone in between,” said Jan Null, also a meteorologist at San Jose State. 

Null is one of the nation's top experts on heatstroke deaths of children left in hot cars and founded NoHeatStroke.org. According to the web site, 54 percent of cases a child is forgotten by a caregiver. Twenty-seven percent of deaths occur because a child is playing in an unattended car and 18 percent a child is intentionally left by an adult.

“Cars can be hot deadly places,” said Null. “They are not play areas. Children and pets should not be left unattended for any amount of time.”

“Just remember every time a kid gets into a car,” said Sinykin. “Their life can be on the line. You have to be very careful about that.”

Experts said, on average, there are 37 deaths a year because a child is left in a hot car. Authorities urge parents to have a reminder system, recommending putting belongings in the back seat near your child.