Local grocery stores checking for kids, pets in hot cars

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT News) -- Knoxville is preparing for extreme heat on Tuesday, local grocery store employees and shoppers are paying closer attention to kids and pets that may have been left behind in hot cars.

Tennessee ranks high for hot car deaths, last year reaching a record number of 52./ Source: WVLT News

Tennessee ranks high for hot car deaths, last year reaching a record number of 52. NoHeatStroke.org reported that, of the children who died in hot cars in the last 20 years, 53 percent of children were forgotten inside a car, 26 percent gained access to the vehicle and 18 percent were left knowingly.

As temperatures continue to rise in East Tennessee, local stores are paying more attention to signs of kids and pets being left in cars in the parking lots.

Store managers of local Food City grocery stores told WVLT News it's not mandatory for associates to check cars for kids or pets that may have been left in cars in their lot. However, managers said their carry-out associates that assist customers with groceries are constantly in the parking lot and do keep their eyes and ears peeled for these types of situations. Some managers even said they personally scan the lot throughout the day to check for things out of the ordinary.

Kroger stores told WVLT News that they have parking lot cameras in place that are closely monitored daily, checking for abnormal things. Kroger stores also have in place what they call a protection team that circles the parking lot of stores periodically throughout the day to monitor for things like theft. Kroger said they don't specifically check for kids and pets in hot cars, but if these things do arise, the protection team will report them.

Publix told WVLT that they don't have any formal system in place to monitor things of this nature, but some Publix locations have local law enforcement agencies that voluntarily scan their parking lots throughout the day.

In the case that a store associate doesn't catch these things and you see a child or pet left behind in a parked car, you are encouraged to call 9-1-1. Tennessee's Good Samaritan Law allows you to break a car window to save both children and pets from hot cars in the case of emergencies.

To avoid leaving pets and kids behind, there are plenty of apps available for your smart phone that will alert you in case you accidentally forget them.

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