Every summer, neglectful parents, guardians, or family members make the mistake of leaving young children in hot vehicles while they run errands. However, it only takes 10 minutes for heat levels in an unattended vehicle to become deadly for small children. It is only thanks to responsible bystanders that take matters into their own hands by breaking a window and rescuing the child that many children are still with us today.
Earlier this week in Kansas, a teen employee at Famous Footwear, Porscha Bland, alerted her store manager, Sarah Oropeza, to a distressed 2-year-old girl trapped in a hot car in the parking lot. Oropeza, a mother of two, immediately took action to try and save the overheated toddler.
“The windows were totally rolled up, all the doors were locked. She was covered in sweat. When I looked in the back window, she was covered in sweat. She had pulled her hair back and sweat was just dripping” Oropeza told local news station KCTV. “I’m screaming, ‘There is a baby in the car! There is a baby in the car! Somebody help!'”
Several people heard Oropeza and Bland’s calls for help and attempted to help break the sealed windows, but were unsuccessful. Bland frantically dialed 911 for more assistance while still attempting to get people’s aid in rescuing the overheated toddler.
“I was just praying, ‘Break the window. She is going to die,'” Oropeza told KCTV. “She was crying, and she was drenched in sweat, like her shoes were wet, her socks were wet. She was so drenched in sweat. I just started crying.”
Approximately three minutes later, the child was saved from the hot vehicle and given medical attention by a nurse on the scene while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. Since there was no diaper bag in the car for the child, a police officer bought the child some diapers. Once the child’s vitals were checked by local paramedics, her godmother picked her up and thanked the toddler’s rescuers for their efforts in saving her from a heatstroke.
While child endangerment charges are currently pending against the two family members who left the child in the car , Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe celebrated that the manager and coworker managed to rescue the child in the first place.
“That’s the best part of this story,” said Howe. “Kudos to that young lady for doing that and helping a child out.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned the public multiple times about the dangers of leaving a child in an unattended vehicle, especially during summer months when temperatures can reach outrageous heights. Due to the chemistry of children’s bodies, it doesn’t take long for a child’s body to become overheated. Infants and children younger than age 4 are the demographic with the greatest risk of heat-related illness and heat injury.
“Even outside temperatures in the 60s can cause a car temperature to rise well above 110° F. When the outside temperature is 83° F, even with the window rolled down 2 inches, the temperature inside the car can reach 109° F in only 15 minutes,” NHTSA said in a statement.
For more information on child heatstroke, visit the “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” campaign page to receive important rules and tips on how to best protect innocent children from heat injuries.