The month is coming to an end. It’s been a hot one with record high temperatures. Many more hot days are ahead. With them come dangers. Not the least of them is the risk to children when they are left in hot vehicles.
When it’s 85 degrees out, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows left slightly open, can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and can reach 120 in just half an hour. If that doesn’t tell you why a child or a pet cannot be left inside a vehicle even for short periods, we don’t know why not.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.
Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death. These tragedies are completely preventable. Safe Kids Worldwide is helping educate about how everyone can work together to keep kids safe from heatstroke using the acronym ACT.
A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
While leaving a child alone at all poses other issues, and forgetting that a child is in a car is as inexcusable as it is unimaginable, the more frequent occurrences that are not often the subject of news stories are people leaving pets.
The Humane Society of the United States advises that a pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke when trapped in high temperatures. Pets aren’t able to dispel heat as well as humans. Depending on how thick the animal’s fur is, it can be like a human sitting in a hot car with a winter coat on.
Most people think they’re taking appropriate precautions when they park in the shade and crack the windows so pets can get fresh air. They take their pets with them in the car because they love them and enjoy their companionship and are devastated on their return to find their pets in extreme stress or, even worse, dead.
Again, the deaths are entirely preventable. People must be aware of how quickly closed, unattended cars or trucks can become stifling death traps — and be responsible.