INDIANAPOLIS – Police say a mother left her two young kids alone in a freezing car for more than an hour outside a hospital in Indianapolis, where dangerously cold temperatures have gripped the city.
The 26-year-old mother allegedly left her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter alone in her car in the parking lot at Community Hospital North while she went for a job interview, according to WXIN.
A police report details how the two kids eventually went to the front desk where they "appeared to be cold with a pale skin tone and (were) slightly shivering. The kids advised they were freezing… and walked in on their own because they were cold and scared."
According to the report, the temperature outside the car was just 5 degrees. Using a laser thermometer, law enforcement measured the temperature inside the car and found it to be just 10 degrees.
"No matter what temperature it is, it’s always a bad idea to leave young children in a car by themselves," said Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine.
Sgt. Perrine and Wayne Township Fire Captain Mike Pruitt locked themselves inside a car last June and live-streamed the ordeal for 40 minutes to illustrate the dangers of hot cars.
Perrine says extreme cold can be just as dangerous.
"Hypothermia sets in instantly. As soon as you get in these cold temperatures, in a matter of minutes your body goes into a hypothermic state and it can be detrimental to anyone, especially a child," said Perrine.
Although the mother claimed she left the car running, the officer at the scene noted the windows were all frosted over and by checking surveillance video the deputy calculated the kids were alone in the car for 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Although arranging child care can be tricky, police say there are always safer options than leaving children alone inside a car at any temperature.
"Take the children inside with you. I know finding a babysitter is not always an option, but take them inside. It’s not always convenient, but safety isn’t always convenient and you have to make sure you do things the safe way," said Perrine.
Ultimately, the mother in this case was not arrested and was able to take her kids home. A report was made with CPS and sent to the child abuse division.