Summer Safety Series
Part 7 – Children and Pet Safety in Parked Vehicles
It’s summer and the heat indexes are high. Common sense tells you that your vehicle turns into an oven when left idle in the sun. Yet, more and more often the evening news talks about tragedies that could have been easily avoided. We’re talking about the rising number of child and pet accidental deaths due to being left in parked vehicles.
Cars and Heat Don’t Mix
Vehicle windows act like a greenhouse. They have no ventilation, trap sunlight and heat inside. Often you’ll hear that a driver states that they were only going to leave the car idle for a few minutes – not long enough for the heat to become dangerous. Wrong! Unlike outdoors, where the heat rises gradually as the day progresses, in cars the heat rises rapidly and can become life-threatening in 10 minutes or less. That means your child’s body temperature can rise as high as 106 degrees during that short amount of time. And, as we all know, high temperatures can cause heat stroke, dehydration, brain damage, damage to vital organs, and seizures.
Emergency Care For You (www.emergencycareforyou.org) offers some useful prevention tips.
- Never leave children in unattended vehicles
- Never let children play in parked unattended vehicles
- Keep unattended vehicles locked
- If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police immediately
- If a child in an unattended vehicle appears in distress, get them out immediately
NEVER leave your pet in a parked car – even accidentally. It makes no difference if you leave the vehicle running with the air conditioner on. It’s dangerous and if the day is warm, the interior temperatures will rapidly rise to dangerous levels. For instance:
- If the temperature is 85 degrees,
- After 10 minutes, the interior temperature can reach 102 degrees
- After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees
What does this mean for your pet? Best case scenario, your pet will get irreversible organ damage. Worst case, your pet will die. Here are some more stats from the Humane Society (www.humanesociety.org):
- It it’s 72 degrees outside, the temperature in your vehicle can reach 116 degrees within an hour
- At 80 degrees, it only takes 10 minutes for the vehicle to heat up to 99 degrees
Heatstroke affects humans and our pets. Days above 90 degrees with high humidity can turn deadly quickly, especially for your pets. Humans sweat which helps keep the body temperature more level. Pets sweat only through their paws which isn’t enough to cool their bodies. They pant to help rid themselves of heat, but that’s not enough. Consider heatstroke to be a medical emergency for both humans and pets.
Face it, you would never allow your child or pet to run a high temperature at home without seeking help. Don’t endanger their lives by leaving them in parked vehicles. Make it a habit to look throughout your vehicle before you leave it parked. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.lhsfna.org) states that 25 children accidentally die every year due to heat stroke as a result of being left in a parked vehicle. Don’t let your child (or pet) become a statistic. Stay safe and have a wonderful summer!
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View the entire Summer Safety Series