A disturbing video has been posted on YouTube to highlight the dangers of parents leaving their children in their cars during hot weather.
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Terry Williams, from North Carolina, made the recording from inside his vehicle in Raleigh, where temperatures average 30C in the summer, to demonstrate the life-threatening conditions that locked-in youngsters face.
Dripping with sweat, Williams says: “I'm sitting in the car with the windows rolled up 'cause I want to know how it feels to be left in the car.
“I would never leave my kids in a car like this man, ever. I don’t even care if the car was running with the AC on,” he says.
Referring to past tragedies where children have suffocated to death in the back of their parents’ automobiles, Williams says: “This is wrong man. We go through this every, every year; year after year after year there will always be some fool that wants to leave their kid in the backseat of the car and forget all about them.”
He asks: “Do you really love your kids? That’s what you should ask yourself.”
And fully emphasising the fatal consequences of the rising temperatures, Williams adds: “As you can see, I'm sweating, like I can barely breathe out here, but my system is stronger than these little kids systems.”
The video has been viewed over one million times, with many users commenting on the importance of the message. Interest may have been sparked by the current case of a Georgia father who is alleged to have left his 22-month-old son to die inside a hot car.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, has been charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in the second degree, following the death of his toddler Cooper, who died from hyperthermia after being locked in a car outside his Harris' work for seven hours in searing 90 degree heat. Harris denies the charges.
According to KidsAndCars.org, last year at least 44 children died from heatstroke caused by being left in cars in the United States. At least 17 are estimated to have died from the same cause so far this year.
In 2009 the Washington Post published a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature article written by Gene Weingarten, called "Fatal Distraction". The famous piece looked at case studies of parents who had left their children to die in the backseat of their car after forgetting they were there, asking whether such a “horrifying mistake” was a crime.