Hot Cars 'Cooking' More Kids and Pets
Graphic: The biggest increase in interior car temperatures occurs in the first 30 minutes.
Compared to the image below, there is a small difference noted for rising temperatures
due as it's not an exact science. However, the dangers of leaving kids and pets inside
parked cars even for "just a minute" is unmistakable.
August 2, 2015, updated May 22, 2018
This is a topic that you'd think wouldn't be necessary. Logic dictates that excessive car heat + kids and pets can be deadly. It's much like by winter people have gone brain dead thinking they can drive 75 mph on icy freeways. Every year sees 50- and 100-car pile-ups because someone didn't slow down to suit road conditions.
In 2017 at least 44 children had "cooked" and died after being left in parked cars. News has been plastered with many close calls for children and pets and their heroic rescues. According to KidsAndCars.org, heatstroke from being left in cars has killed nearly 800 children since 1989. It can happen in any state, but Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina see the most.
Graphic: It might be an idea to pull down this graphic, print it out and put it on the fridge especially during Summer. It's already sized for printing on 8-1/2 x 11" paper.
Caregivers defend themselves saying they left children or pets in the car for “just a minute" while they ran an errand. Then more time passes than intended. Otherwise loving parents get hung up in a line, get distracted or lose track of time. Few realize just how quickly a vehicle's interior can hit triple digits, skyrocket even when the car is parked in shade, with the windows cracked and outside temperature seems mild.
Children, Elderly and Pets Most at Risk
Children’s bodies absorb heat 3 to 5 times faster than adults because they’re not fully developed. Heat stroke can occur when body temperature passes 104ºF (40ºC) causing dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, loss of consciousness, and/or death. Elderly people and those who are overweight are also more at risk of overheating.
Dogs, especially short-muzzled pets such as Shih-Tzus, Pekingese, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, boxers, etc. or ones with thick or dark-colored coats are more heat-intolerant than their furry counterparts. Canines that have suffered heat stroke previously or are obese are also more at risk.
Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like we do, so they have just 2 ways to cool off panting and releasing heat through their paws. (Yes, dogs do perspire through their feet since there's no fur covering them, but their sweat glands are tiny compared to humans.) They can't effectively get rid of excessive body heat by panting because there's not enough cool air to breathe in a blistering car.
Tips to Help Avoid This Life-threatening Situation
Laws to Help
Still as of April 2018, just 19 states have passed legislation allowing strangers to break a car window if they believe the situation threatens the child’s well-being.
Some states, but not all have passed legislation allowing strangers to break a car window if a pet locked inside is clearly in distress. Check here to find your state's animals-in-hot-car laws:
Other articles by Holly Deyo