Officials warn against leaving children, pets in hot cars

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As temperatures continue to rise, we want you to remember the safety of your children and pets who are sitting in the backseat.

In previous years, there have been several child deaths related to hot cars. Temperatures have picked up and it's easy to get lost in the daily hustle. If you're traveling with children or pets in the backseat, you need to take the necessary steps not to leave them in a hot car alone.

"Usually, we respond about twice a month to an animal in a car or child in a car."

"The temperature in the car is obviously going to be 10 to 20 degrees hotter."

For Bluffton Police, if they find a car with a child or pet locked inside, they follow strategic steps.

"We're going to access the situation, check the temperature, get it recorded by calling the dispatcher and asking them 'what temperature do you show today?' That way, it's on record that we asked what temperature it was before we take any action in the vehicle," said Officer Jake Higgins, Bluffton Police Department.

Even for the K9 unit at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, deputies are constantly aware of the environment with the four-legged animals locked in the car.

"If the temperature gets up to a certain point, usually about 90-95 degrees, the vehicle will then roll down the windows. It has fans that circulate air and it also has an audible alarm that goes along with it," said Deputy Ben Holman, Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Ultimately, you're putting yourself at risk with the law in Bluffton if authorities have to rescue your pet from the backseat with no air conditioner or fresh air.

"The person could be fined animal cruelty, up to a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail," Officer Higgins said.

The punishment is stronger for humans.

"That could be a felony depending on the neglect of the child and the fines are outrageous and the jail time is outrageous, with an automatic license suspension up to 60 days."

It's recommended that you leave your cell phone or a loud toy in the backseat with your child while driving just as a reminder when you're getting out of the car.

Bluffton Police say if you see a child or pet locked in the car to immediately call 911 so officials can investigate the situation, which could save the child or pet's life.

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