Gastonia Fire Chief S’Mores Offers a Lesson on Kids in Hot Cars

Melted chocolate may be more convincing than warnings from public safety officials.

The Gastonia Fire Department held a heat-in-a-car demonstration on Thursday, July 7 to discourage people from leaving their children inside hot cars.

Jim Landis, fire inspector for the Gastonia Fire Department and coordinator of Safe Kids Gaston County, dropped S’Mores on the dashboard of his car in the middle of the day when the temperature outside was 84 degrees.

The car’s interior had reached a height greater than the 130-degree thermometer could read, and the humidity needle spun almost 360 degrees to return to the starting point.

Within minutes, chocolate began to melt on the sides of the marshmallows as Landis and other reporters sweated just watching the S’Mores bake in that oven-like state inside the car.

Landis said that while many think they surely won’t forget their children, nearly 1,000 children have died in burning cars across the country since 1998.

“It’s a real thing, it’s a real problem,” he said last week.

Landis said children are usually left behind when their parent was supposed to drop them off at daycare or preschool and then forgot to drop them off before going to work. When left in a car locked in their booster seat, they can begin to experience dehydration and heat shock. “Next thing you know, three hours have passed,” he said.

On Friday July 1, a one-year-old child was left in a hot car by his father after going to work at Armacell’s manufacturing plant in Mebane, North Carolina. Local police were alerted at midday, but the child had already died that day at 86 degrees.

Landis had heard of another death the day before the protest in Danielsville, Georgia on Thursday, June 30. A mother working at Walgreens had left her one-year-old child in the backseat after she forgot to drop her child off at daycare. Police were alerted to an unconscious child in the vehicle. The infant was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead later that afternoon.

Gastonia Police Department Information Officer Rick Goodale called them “100% preventable tragedies.”

Gastonia Fire Department Safety Administrator Jim Landis puts S'Mores inside a car Thursday, July 7, outside the departments headquarters on Myrtle School Road in the part of a demonstration to show how hot cars can get on a hot day.

According to the New South Wales Department of Health, babies and children are at a higher risk of overheating than adults because they generate more heat during exercise and do not sweat as much, which reduces their capacity. to cool down.

The temperature inside a parked car can be 85 to 105 degrees higher than outside the car, and most of this temperature rise occurs within five minutes of closing the doors. of the car.

Landis tries to show this demonstration every year and frequently receives calls about children who have been left in cars for him to come and unlock them. “I encourage the public to call 911 if they see a child left in a car,” he said.

Some people may leave their children in the car with the windows down or the keys in the ignition with the air conditioning on, but Landis said that would be an effective way for someone to steal the car and the child. The New South Wales Department of Health also said: “having windows down 5 centimeters only causes a very slight decrease in temperature”.

“You don’t want to leave a kid in the car all the time,” Landis said.

Landis suggests there’s one thing people will remember to bring even more than their child: their cell phone. He encourages people to leave their cell phones in the backseat with their child. Before leaving the car, they will not forget to take their mobile phone and their child.

S'Mores cooks in a hot car on Thursday, July 7, 2022 at Gastonia Fire Department Headquarters on Myrtle School Road.

Newer cars also make it easier to remember that people may have forgotten something in the vehicle, Landis said. If the car notices that the owner opened the backseat door, drove, then left without opening the backseat door again, the car will alert the owner that they may have forgotten something in the backseat .

“You want to make sure your kids stay alive so they can eat S’Mores with you,” Landis said.

This makeshift oven melted all the marshmallow evenly and the chocolate dripped onto the floor when the s’mores were scooped up. It’s the type of experience that easily provides images of how hard it is to leave kids inside a hot car. It was very effective and the S’Mores tasted amazing.

Luc Séguret, a rising senior at Western Carolina University, worked as a reporter for The Gaston Gazette until he returned to school in August. He can be reached at 828-206-2544 or by email at [email protected]

An example of an S'Mores being cooked inside a hot car Thursday, July 7, 2022, outside Gastonia Fire Department's Myrtle School Road station.

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