Leaving Kids or Pets in Cars is Extremely Dangerous

Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 12:34pm

Car Temperatures Get to Life-Threatening Levels very Quickly

Every summer, the heartbreaking and preventable story is all too familiar; people leaving their children or pets alone in a hot car with disastrous consequences.

“Even if it is only 70 degrees outside, an interior car temperature can reach 90 degrees in just 10 minutes. Sunshine and hotter days mean even higher temperatures,” according to Nicole Vesely, Safe Kids Madison Area Coordinator for American Family Children's Hospital.  “This type of heat in an enclosed space is very difficult for a child or pet’s body to deal with and can easily lead to heatstroke and ultimately a fatality, especially in light of the fact that a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body.”

Measures like cracking a window open or leaving the air conditioning running are not solutions. In tests, a cracked window has little effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour, and leaving an air conditioner running only delays the temperature spike by about five minutes on sunny days.

The best protection from this risk is to never leave a child or pet alone in a vehicle. Simply leave your pet at home, and always take your child out of the car with you - no matter how short you think your errand will be. Failure to follow this advice can result in not only injury, but fines or criminal charges.  

It is also smart to take precautions to prevent accidentally leaving a child in a car. Some ideas include putting your purse in the back seat by your child’s car seat, or always checking the back seat of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
 
If you see a parked car with a child or pet left alone, call 911 and stay with the car until help arrives.

For more information on the impact of heat on people
 
For a quick summary of tips to avoid heatstroke with your kids

Another version of tips to avoid heatstroke with your kids

For more information on heatstroke in animals
 

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Health & Safety