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New decal prevents children being left in cars


Pensacola firefighter Gary Creel has busted many windows to get kids out of dangerously hot cars. 

"Last year alone we were called out over 30 times for children that needed assistance," Creel says.

Sometimes the summons is from people who notice children left in hot cars. Creel says those folks are strangers who become heroes with one call.

"If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle without a parent around, definitely get involved, immediately call 911."

Pensacola firefighters are installing these "life meters" for caregivers who make an appointment for one. they're temperature decals that show how hot it is inside the vehicle. In less than five minutes, this one shot to 110 degrees.

Dr. Robert Patterson is a pediatric intensive care specialist at Sacred Heart Hospital. He says heat injuries and deaths are among his most frustrating and heartbreaking cases.

They're horrified beyond belief and the amount of sadness that occurs because of upon realizing that this has happened because of a moments' lapse is terrible," Patterson says.

Patterson says the rate of children being forgotten in cars began to rise in recent years.

There's thought there's a component to our hectic lifestyle," Patterson said.

Patterson says he understands how parents can get distracted.

"I get a call from the hospital, I immediately go into doctor mode, into lawyer mode, reporter mode, whatever and all of a sudden you're that professional and the parent mode goes into the background a little bit. I've driven right past my kids' school," Patterson says.

"When my kids were newborns, I was so paranoid I'd leave them in the car, I'd leave three different things in the back with them, my phone, lunchbox and purse. I was not likely to forget all of the items."

Creel says new parents are most at risk and changes in routine can trigger trouble.

A parent not used to dropping off at childcare is more likely to forget. He says if your child gets into any kind of heat-related distress undo their clothes, cool them with cold rags and do not hesitate to call for medical help.

If you are interested in getting a "life-meter" car temperature decal, call the Pensacola Fire Department at 436-5200. Firefighters will set up a time for you to get one installed.