Clarksville, TN – With the summer heat in full gear, the Clarksville Police Department is reminding citizens not to leave children and pets in unattended vehicles that are not running. It takes a matter of minutes for the inside of a car to heat up and become deadly for a child or animal.
According to a 2012 article by Melissa Crumish, from the DMV, “since 1998, 529 children have died in the United States from hyperthermia (heat stroke) after being left inside unattended vehicles.”1It is harder for animals, specifically dogs, to cool down than humans, due to their cooling mechanisms. If a dog’s body temperature rises from 101.5 to 105 degrees F, it can cause brain damage or death within 15 minutes.2
Leaving Children Unattended in Vehicles (TCA 55-10-803)
In Tennessee, an adult in violation of the law is subject to a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. If an injury occurs as a result of a violation of 55-10-803, the violator could be subject to a Class A misdemeanor or a Class A, B or D felony for child endangerment. Death as a result of leaving a child unattended is a Class E felony for criminally negligent homicide.3
Leaving Animals Unattended in Vehicles (TCA 39-14-202 – Animal Cruelty/ TCA 39-14-212 – Aggravated Animal Cruelty)
In Tennessee, an adult in violation of the Animal Cruelty law is subject to a Class A Misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class E Felony for the second offense.4
The Clarksville Police Department suggests that parents, or caretakers of children, put the diaper bag or something belonging to the child in the front seat, as a reminder that there is a child in the backseat.
For animals, if the pet owner or caretaker is going to a location where the animal has to sit in the car for more than 10 minutes in hot temperatures, it is best to leave the animal home where it can stay safe from the heat.
Finally, and most importantly, if you see a child in an unattended vehicle, call 911. The Clarksville Police Department treats this as a high priority call.