TWIN FALLS - The Twin Falls Police Department is investigating the death of a 10-month-old baby girl after she was found in a parked vehicle on the 500 block of Highland Avenue just before midnight on Friday, June 23.
Officers learned the baby was left in the vehicle for several hours during the afternoon and evening hours.
Investigators are not releasing any names at this time and no charges have been filed in the case. The department tells KTVB the case is still under investigation.
In the meantime, safety officials say you should never leave your children in a hot vehicle, even if you're going in for just a quick minute, and always look before you lock.
"Absolutely, the worst mistake any parent, caregiver, or family can make is to think that it can't happen to them," said Janette Fennell with KidsAndCars.org. "It's like we lose awareness and you know how it is when you're driving, and you get on autopilot. Our brains tend to fill in what happened because we do it so frequently. So people really need to understand that that is how our brain works."
KidsAndCars.org is a national organization for children's safety. The organization says there are several things you can do to help you not forget about that little one in the back seat, including putting your cell phone, purse, briefcase - even one of your shoes - in the back seat with the child.
"Do something that kinda forces you to open that back door and look before you lock," Fennell said.
You can also condition yourself to always have something in your child's car seat.
"Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat at all times. Keep it in there, but as soon as you put the baby in the car seat put that stuffed animal upfront, put it in the passenger seat. We're very, very cue dependent, and if the stuffed animal is in the front seat, you know the baby is in the back," Fennell said.
Finally, make sure your child care provider understands that if you don't call to tell them your child is not going to be there, and your child doesn't show up, have them call you immediately.
"It really hits home when hundreds of hundreds of children would still be alive if that one little phone call was made," Fennell said.
That's the takeaway message: These tragedies are avoidable.
"It's so preventable," Fennell said. "We all need to work together and make sure this doesn't happen, as well as if you see a child in the parking lot or somewhere they've been left alone, get involved."
The Twin Falls Police Department says the best thing to do if you see a child in a hot vehicle is to call 911 immediately.
Fennell wants to remind everyone that when the windows of a vehicle are up, temperatures can spike nearly 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes.
More child safety tips can be found at KidsAndCars.org.