State officials recently joined Trumbull’s emergency responders and animal welfare activists to try to drive home a simple message: Heat kills.

“The point of the Heat Kills program is to raise awareness about the dangers leaving children and pets in hot cars,” said Police Chief Michael Lombardo. “This program is a helpful reminder, especially considering 52% of the child deaths in hot cars occur from caregivers who are just forgetful and didn’t realize the child was still in the car.”

The program entails distributing signs, bumper stickers, window posters and car magnets reminding motorists “If you love ‘em, don’t leave ‘em.” The signs also include information about how to contact the Trumbull police to report a child or pet left in a hot car, Devlin said. So far Stop & Shop and Home Depot, among the larger retailers, have committed to posting signs in their parking lots. Other smaller businesses and shopping centers are also participating, Devlin said.

“I’m very proud of Trumbull’s enthusiasm for this program,” Devlin said. “We’re seeing signs all over Fairfield as more merchants have gotten on board. The important thing is for people to realize that it’s really never safe to leave children or pets in a car. Even at 70 degrees, in 10 minutes the temperature can climb to 89 degrees. In a half hour, it’s 104.”

On a warmer day, the temperatures can climb from the mid-80s to nearly 120 degrees in just 30 minutes, she said.

“A lot of this may seem like common sense, but we’re all aware of the dangers to pets and children,” Rutigliano said. “Our colleague Brenda Kupchick got us up to speed on this, and, we agree we wanted to bring it to Trumbull.”

Although Connecticut historically has few cases of children dying after being left unattended, the issue made national headlines last year when 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz, of Ridgefield, died after his father left him in a hot car for hours. In recent years Connecticut has also seen an uptick in reports from people who see dogs in hot cars.  

Trumbull Animal Control Officer Lynn Dellabianca said her department receives calls nearly every day over the summer of animals in cars.

“It’s a lot of manpower,” she said. “We get called to medical offices, or restaurants, and we have someone standing there waiting for the owner. Or, worst case, we have to enter the car.”