Ashland police say they have seen an increase in reports of kids and dogs left in hot cars, and remind drivers it's not only dangerous to do that, it can be illegal.
"The issue is, how long it takes for a car to get to be 130 or 150 degrees. Yesterday it was 97 here; it only takes a couple minutes in the sun," said Sgt. Jim Alderman of the Ashland Police Department.
On Wednesday, July 24, Ashland police responded to two cases of children left in hot cars. One was in the parking lot of Shop N Kart, 2268 Ashland St., and the other on B Street. In the case of the call on B Street a 42-year-old woman was cited for second-degree child neglect.
Usually when police respond to the calls they try to educate the parent, said Alderman.
"We try to see if the kid is okay, and normally they (the parent) show up while you're standing there," said Alderman. "They could be subject to arrest for child neglect, depending on the circumstances. ... DHS can take your kids. Most parents say, 'Oh, I didn't think about it.' "
Even at night with temperatures in the 80s, in just 30 minutes a car with all the windows rolled up can get up to 100 degrees, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
Medford police responded to a report of a child left in a car at 11 p.m. on Monday, July 22, in the Walmart parking lot, 1360 Center Drive.
Witnesses saw the 4-year-old child crying and sweating in the locked car, said Budreau.
"The child appeared to be afraid and officers on the scene tried to get the child to unlock the car, but the child was unable to do that," said Budreau.
Officers had the driver of the vehicle paged inside the store, but the mother of the child didn't appear until 30 to 40 minutes after the initial calls had been made, according to Budreau.
The mother of the child, Ceila Rodriguez-Camacho, 22, of Medford was arrested on a charge of child negligence and was lodged in Jackson County Jail. The child was released to a family member and the case was forwarded to the Jackson County District Attorney's office and the Department of Human Services.
"Even at night it doesn't mean you can't leave a child or a dog in a car and not experience heat issues," said Budreau.
There's another danger. With most of the cities in the Rogue Valley located near the I-5 corridor, Alderman warns that it only takes a few seconds for someone to break a car window and abduct a child before disappearing down I-5.
"What's it take?," said Alderman. "Ten seconds to break a window in a car and take a sleeping baby? Nobody sees it, and we're 10 minutes behind the curve, and in 10 minutes on I-5 going 75 miles per hour, they could be halfway to California."
This time of year, police receive at least one call a day about dogs left in parked cars, according to Alderman.
"In Ashland if you leave your dog in a car, we're going to get a call," said Alderman.
It's not illegal in Oregon to leave a pet in the car, but if the animal is visibly in distress then animal control can get involved. Alderman recommends leaving pets at home when temperatures are high, as they can be put in danger by the heat in a short period of time.
Children should not be left in cars unattended for any length of time. This year there have been 23 children who have died from heatstroke by being left in hot cars, according to the department of geoscience at San Francisco State University.
"I've had tons of people leave their kids in cars. People need to use some common sense," said Alderman.
Mandy Valencia is a reporter with the Mail Tribune. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.