A woman was charged with child neglect after leaving her three kids in a hot car for nearly a half-hour, according to Rock Hill police.
Three people called 911 at about 2:30 p.m. Monday after they saw three children locked in a vehicle unattended in the Rock Hill Galleria parking lot, according to a police report. An officer found the vehicle locked with the windows cracked and not running. Three children inside – ages 8, 2 and 2 – had red, flushed faces and appeared to have been crying.
The children’s mother, Tiffany Smith, had reportedly entered JC Penney to return some items. A woman who called 911 said she entered the store and saw Smith inside at the door.
Smith saw the officers outside and ran back into the store, the woman told police.
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Smith told officers she had been in the store for five or 10 minutes to return several items, but police say surveillance footage showed she was inside for about 27 minutes before officers arrived.
“I didn’t think it was that long; what’s the problem?” Smith told officers, according to the report. The officer told Smith it’s illegal to leave children unattended in a car.
“I understand that, but can’t you just give me a ticket?” she said. “Think about my kids’ well-being.”
The officer said the children’s well-being was his only concern, and Smith said she should be allowed to leave if that was the case, the report states.
Smith was charged with three counts of unlawful neglect of a child, according to the report. She was placed in the Rock Hill city jail and released Monday under $15,000 bond. Her boyfriend took custody of the children, according to the report.
How to avoid child heatstroke
Children are sensitive to heat
▪ In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
▪ Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees.
▪ A child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Look before you lock
▪ Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
▪ Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
▪ Place your pocketbook, wallet, cellphone – even your left shoe – in the backseat next to your child in the car seat.
▪ Seat your child behind the front passenger seat, where she’s most likely to catch your eye.
▪ Like most everything else today, there’s an app to help you remember. Using Bluetooth technology, both “Precious Cargo” and “Kars4Kids Safety” apps sound an alarm if you leave your car without your child.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, KidSafe Foundation
What to do if you see a child alone in a car
If you see a child alone in a car, don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business – protecting children is everyone’s business. “Good Samaritan” laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency.
Here’s what you can do
▪ Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
▪ If the child is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
– Call 911
– Get the child out of the car.
– Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath).
▪ If the child is responsive:
– Stay with the child until help arrives.
– Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.
Warning signs of heatstroke
▪ Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
▪ No sweating
▪ Strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse
▪ Confusion or strange behavior
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration