LAURINBURG — With temperatures regularly settling into the 90s, the Laurinburg Fire Department had a demonstration to show just how hot it can get in a car.
With the help of Scotland Motors and the coalition with North Carolina Safe Kids, the fire department placed a car with a thermostat inside the vehicle and one placed outside, showing both temperatures on a large screen.
“The message is not to leave children or pets in a vehicle at any time, especially this time of year,” said Laurinburg Fire Chief Randy Gibson. “We went out periodically throughout the day to make sure everything was working and one of my firemen shared that it got to 189 degrees.”
According to the National Safety Council, 37 children die each year due to pediatric vehicular heatstroke in the United States. In 2017 alone, 43 children died throughout the country.
While there haven’t been many reports in the area, Gibson remembers one that happened several years back where a child had been left in a car.
“She was OK, but she was sweating from being in there,” Gibson said. “Our first responders got recognized at the state level for the save.”
For anyone who ever sees a child or an animal left in a vehicle, Gibson encourages them to call 911 for help, no matter how nice it might seem outside.
Even new cars are now bringing reminders to look in the back seat, with many having a “don’t forget to check the backseat” message when the ignition is turned off.
“Even when it’s only 70 to 80 degrees outside, it can reach 150 degrees inside the car,” Gibson said. “Even if there’s a nice breeze and it doesn’t feel bad outside, it still gets hot inside a car.”
The fire department had the car for three days, using it on National Night Out on Tuesday, in the Walmart parking lot on Wednesday and at Smithfield’s Bar-B-Q on Thursday.
The car was one of many community outreach programs the fire department does — including fire prevention workshops and child passenger safety. The department also works jointly with the health department and police department for events such as National Night Out and Safety Town.
“When people think of the fire department they think that we’re just doing things like fire prevention and safety,” Gibson said. “But it’s become a whole lot more than that with the community risk reduction. It’s a way to learn how to have a safe and healthier life.”
On Oct, 11, the fire department will be hosting its annual pre-school fire safety event for children throughout the community.
Katelin Gandee can be reached at 910-506-3171 or [email protected]