Pets or Kids Left in Hot Cars are in Mortal Danger
August 22, 2014
Car Temperatures can Quickly Rise to Deadly Levels
This weekend we will be experiencing some of the warmest weather of this summer, so Public Health—Madison and Dane County is reminding people how dangerous it is to leave kids and pets in cars. There have been a number of tragic headlines from Wisconsin and around the country reporting on the fatal consequences. Thinking “I just have to make a very quick stop and I´ll be back in a couple of minutes” could lead to lifelong regret.
If the outside temperature is 93 degrees, even with the window cracked open a bit, the inside of the car can exceed 125 degrees in about 20 minutes. In 40 minutes it will reach 140 degrees. A child´s body temperature rises three to five faster than an adult's, so temperatures of 140 degrees will produce brain damage and death by heatstroke in a matter of minutes. Leaving the engine on with the air conditioning running may seem like a good solution, but if the engine stalls, the same sequence of dangerous conditions can quickly unfold.
Knowing the signs of heat stress AND heatstroke can be helpful. The symptoms of heatstroke are hot, dry skin (no sweating), chills, throbbing headache and high body temperature. Symptoms for heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, dizziness, vomiting and a deep red or purple tongue.
Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency for children and adults, so call 911 right away. Pets with these symptoms should be taken to a vet (or emergency animal clinic) as soon as possible.
The best protection from this risk is to NEVER LEAVE A CHILD OR A PET IN A VEHICLE. While there are legal penalties for doing this, they are nowhere as great or as devastating as the emotional costs for the harm done to a child or an animal left in a hot car. On hot or warm days, just leave your pet at home, and always take your child with you - no matter how short you think your errand will be.
If you see a parked car with a child left alone, step up and call 911 and stay with the car until help arrives. If you see a pet left alone, also call 911. According to Animal Services, almost all cases of animals left along in cars are in the parking lots of malls or large retail stores.
- Jeff Golden, Public Health Madison Dane County, (608) 243-0302, firstname.lastname@example.org