A 10-month-old girl, who was in foster care, died after being left in a hot car in Kansas on Thursday night, according to The Associated Press, as high heat gripped the area.
The girl was found in a car parked outside a home in the Wichita area, Wichita police said. Police reported she was left in the car for about two hours.
Police are still investigating, but the 29-year-old foster father was arrested on aggravated child endangerment charges, according to a blotter on the Wichita Police Department website. He was booked early Friday at the Sedgwick County Jail, jail records state.
Temperatures climbed as high as 90 F Thursday evening. Temperatures were still in the upper 80s when the young girl was found unresponsive.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards explained that temperatures were actually slightly below normal.
"Still, the combination of higher temperatures and sun can can be critical. It can take only minutes for a car to reach into the 100s," he said.
As a result of the infant's death, an inspection is under way at all foster homes associated with a former contractor whose contract was not renewed by Kansas authorities, Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said Friday.
All placements with the former contractor, which was still able to receive placements, have also been suspended as a result, Gilmore said.
On average, 38 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being left inside motor vehicles, according to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit child safety organization.
There have been a total of 18 hot car deaths so far in 2014 according to Jan Null, CCM at San Francisco State University.
Car windows act as a catalyst for rapid temperature increases inside the vehicle. Even without scorching heat, there is still the risk of heatstroke death when a child is left in a vehicle.
"If a car is in the sun and the windows are up, temperatures can climb 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. Cars with dark interiors heat up the fastest.
According to a study done by Null, recording the average temperature rise in a vehicle over time, a car's temperature can increase by 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. In one to two hours, the temperature inside a car can increase between 45 and 50 degrees.
Temperatures are expected to climb even higher in the central U.S. over the next several days.
Edwards said that Saturday could feature record-breaking heat.
"When temperatures are that high, it is imperative people are cautious and double check their cars before leaving a child or animal in a sweltering car," Edwards said.
Hot car heatstroke deaths are preventable. Always check the backseat before locking doors as well as follow other tips from Safercar.gov and KidsandCars.org:
1. Never leave a child alone in a car.
2. Keep a large teddy bear or stuffed animal in the car seat when it's empty. Move the teddy bear when the child is in the car seat as a visual reminder. Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, brief case, etc., in the backseat.
3. Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage.
4. If you see an unattended child in a car, call 911 immediately.
5. Be vigilant about always checking the backseat before you lock the doors.
AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger contributed to this story.
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