OK, class, let's take this from the top one more time, because apparently some of you are just not getting the message.

When is it OK to leave a child in a parked car?

When you go to a late movie and don't want to pay for a sitter, you can let the child sleep in the car so he won't annoy other people in the theater.

Wrong! The answer is "never"! Last week a father left his 2-year-old son in a car while he watched the movie "The Dark Knight." Passers-by noticed the sweaty, dehydrated, crying child in the car and alerted police, who broke into the vehicle. It was 87 degrees in the car — at 1 a.m. — and the child had been in there for two hours. Police stopped the movie, arrested the father in the theater for child abuse and returned the child to the mother. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the kitchen wall when the husband returned home?

So, let's try this again: When is it OK to leave a child in a parked car?

When you need to run into Sears for only 20 minutes and you don't want to lug the child around the store.

That is so wrong that it deserves an exclamation point! No, make that three of them!!! Look, this is not a trick question. The answer is still "never." It's always "never." Last May a Salt Lake couple left their child in a car while they shopped in Sears. A security guard broke into the car to rescue the 2-year-old boy. Fortunately, in this case, the child was fine, but things could have turned disastrous quickly. The parents face reckless endangerment charges.

"Even though it was overcast, he (the security guard) could feel the heat coming from the window," Police Lt. Gary Young said. "The child was sweating profusely."

Sooo, when is it OK to leave a child in a parked car?

It's probably OK if you just want to dash into a grocery store real fast, and you leave the window cracked.

Is your head cracked? What part of "never" don't you understand? There is never a safe time to leave a child in a parked car. And the exception to that rule is this: There is none! Last summer a young mother left her 2-year-old daughter and 7-week-old baby in the car with the windows open while she shopped for groceries in Moab, in July. Passers-by rescued the children, and the baby was hospitalized. Police reported that the temperature inside the car measured 170 degrees. It wasn't a car; it was a kiln. And by the way, experts say that leaving the car window open does little to help.

You'd think people would learn. Every summer children are left to bake in cars across America. According to a study by meteorologist Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services, more than 360 children have died during the last 10 years from being left in a parked

car. And yet it's completely preventable.

According to Null's report, heat inside a car increases 19 degrees in 10 minutes and 29 degrees in 20 minutes and continues to rise. According to a story in the Tulsa World, last summer, the Tulsa Police Department conducted a study with a parked car on a 91-degree day. When the air-conditioned car was turned off, it was 78 degrees in the vehicle, but within 30 minutes the temperature rose to 140 degrees, and after one hour it was 183 degrees. A core body temperature of 107 is considered deadly.

A parked car becomes an oven. Not even Carl Lewis could race into a store, do his business and return in time to avoid his child's suffering. Besides that, you could forget. The Associated Press found "more than 220 cases in which the caregiver admitted leaving the child behind. More than three-quarters of those people claim they simply forgot."

It could happen to anyone — you rush into a store, you shift into autopilot as you search the aisles for cereal and bargains on toothpaste, and next thing you know you've forgotten that your child is waiting in the car. We put children in the back seat to protect them, but it also makes them more easily forgotten.

In April, a Utah woman accidentally left her infant in the back seat of her car after a trip to the grocery store on a 90-degree day. By the time she remembered three hours later, the child had died.

OK, so when is it OK to leave a child in a parked car?


E-MAIL: [email protected]