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Look Before You Lock: Kern County observes Purple Ribbon Month

Posted at 6:14 AM, Jul 02, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — July is Purple Ribbon Month in Kern County, and officials hope to spread awareness of the dangers hot cars pose for kids and pets. With another heat wave on the way, remember how fast cars can heat up.

  • Video shows the Department of Human Services sharing the importance of Purple Ribbon Month to encourage people to know the risks of leaving children or pets unattended.
  • Under Kaitlyn's Law, it is illegal to leave a child six years old or under unattended in a vehicle without supervision from someone at least 12 years old.


This July, Kern County officials are encouraging residents to look before they lock, meaning don't leave anyone behind once you shut off your vehicle. The Board of Supervisors proclaimed July as Purple Ribbon Month to spread awareness of heat safety for children and pets.

As you back up, notice who you have riding with you. Purple Ribbon Month is in honor of Kaitlyn’s Law which says no child six or under can be left alone in a vehicle without someone 12 or older present.

While it's observed in Kern during July, The Department of Human Services says they want to promote car safety year-round so it can become a habit.

“I don’t want to say it’s a matter of time, but it’s important to know this information now and make sure that it becomes part of your routine to check your car for your child," Paola Hernandez said. "In a lot of these cases, the child was forgotten."

Paola Hernandez, Marketing and Promotions representative at the Department of Human Services, says Kern County’s intense heat makes the danger present consistently.

“Their bodies heat up more quickly, three to five times faster than adults in many cases. The car also heats up quite fast, to ten degrees up to ten minutes" Hernandez said. "It’s important that you take preventative measures.”

According to the organization Kids and Car Safety which tracks hot car deaths, California has had 65 hot car-related deaths since 1990. The most recent was June 2024 in San Diego County.

Hernandez says there's a misconception surrounding who this can happen to. She says it truly can happen to anyone.

“There’s science out there that says that it just can happen. It’s called “forgotten baby syndrome,” and that’s not the technical term, I think it’s the one people remember the most," Hernandez said. "When you’re overwhelmed your brain reverts to autopilot.”

Kids and Car Safety also found that 55% of child hot car deaths were due to them being unknowingly left behind. Hernandez says routinely checking for your child or pet is important, and leaving your phone or purse in the back seat could help to ensure they aren’t left behind.

Hernandez says the Deptartment of Human Services will not only be promoting car safety this whole month, but they also want to spread awareness of the Good Samaritan Law.

“What that means is if you see a child in a car and it looks life-threatening, even an animal, you call 911," Hernandez said. "The second step is you are able to, by any means, get into the car to get the child out. So you are protected under the Good Samaritan Law.”

As temperatures across the county are expected to increase throughout this week, officials say it's important to remember just how fast cars can heat up.

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