A mother has been arrested after a young child called 911 to report he and six other kids had been left alone in a hot car, according to authorities.
The call came in to dispatchers in Charles County, Maryland, around 1 p.m. on Friday, the sheriff's office said in a press release. The child didn’t know where they were, but the operator was able to pinpoint the location of the vehicle to the St. Charles Towne Center, according to the statement.
Officers found seven children between the ages of 2 and 4 in the vehicle with the windows rolled up and the car not running. Shortly after the children were removed from the car and treated at the scene, the driver arrived.
According to the sheriff's office, the unnamed 37-year-old woman had been shopping inside the mall for at least 20 minutes.
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"It is against the law to leave a child under the age of 8 unattended inside a motor vehicle if the caregiver is out of sight of the child unless a reliable person at least 13-years-old remains with the child," the sheriff's office said.
"It is also dangerous to leave anyone, including pets, inside a motor vehicle especially as outside temperatures become warmer. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise to extremely high and even fatal levels in a short period of time."
The woman is the mother of two of the children and was babysitting the others, according to the sheriff’s office. She was arrested and charged with confinement of children inside a motor vehicle, but may face additional charges
The penalty for leaving children unattended is as much as $500 in fines, 30 days in jail, or both, according to Maryland state law.
Cars transform into ovens when direct sunlight heats objects inside. Temperatures can soar to 120 or 130 degrees even when the outdoor temperature is only in the 80s. The body's natural cooling methods, such as sweating, begin to shut down once the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees. Death can occur at 107 degrees.
On average, 38 children die while trapped in hot vehicles every year, according to Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Jose State University. Last year, a record 52 children died.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Woman arrested after toddler calls 911, reports he and 6 others left alone in a hot car