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Too Hot for Kids and Pets to be Left in a Vehicle

Photo courtesy of bossco/flickr

It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways: Don’t leave your kids and pets in your car this summer. I personally witnessed dogs left in cars with the windows either closed or open just a crack on 80 degree days and heard of someone finding two small kids left in a car with the windows up on a 90 degree day. What is wrong with people?

According to Consumer Reports from 1998 to May 2011 500 children have died because they were left in hot vehicles. You should never leave your child or pet in a car for any amount of time, no matter how short, it is very dangerous. Children and animals cannot tolerate heat as well as adults and are more susceptible to hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate, which can lead to brain damage, kidney failure and even death. More than half of all child hyperthermia deaths in the United States from 1998 to 2009 were children under 2 years old.

You might be surprised to hear that temperatures in a closed automobile rose approximately 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, 29 degrees after 20 minutes, 34 degrees in 30 minutes and 43 degrees in an hour. The temperature could rise up to 50 degrees higher than the outside temperature after a second hour, according to a study by San Francisco State University (SFSU).

With an outside temperature of 82 degrees, the closed automobile registered 109 degrees inside according to a study done by The Animal Protection Institute (API). When the outside temperature rose to 112 degrees, the closed vehicle reached an astonishing 124 degrees. The study also measured vehicles with cracked windows. With all four windows cracked, an 88-degree day outside still reached a scorching 103 degrees inside the car. Later that day, when the temperature outside got to 110 degrees, the temperature inside the car still rose to 123 degrees!

It doesn’t matter whether you leave the windows cracked or not. It is still a death sentence for your child or pet to leave them in a vehicle, in even 80 degree weather for a short amount of time. Don’t do it! If you see a child in a hot vehicle, don’t hesitate – call 9-1-1! Every minute counts. You could save a child’s life.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of The University of Montana, animal lover and writer.

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