Each year, heat is the number one killer of weather-related fatalities in the United States, claiming over 1,500 lives. That’s more deaths than caused by floods, tornadoes or winter storms annually.
In 2011, 500 children died after being left in hot cars.
With over 33 states currently experiencing temperatures over 90 degrees, with many in triple digits, it’s important to understand the dangers of heat … especially in relation to leaving kids and pets in cars.
Heat and Cars: How It Works
On an 85 degree day, it takes less than 10 minutes for the temperature inside of your car to rise up to 100 degrees. In less than 30 minutes, the temperature will rise to 120 degrees. Even on a mild day, like 60 degrees, temperatures can spike quickly inside of a car, making it extremely dangerous for kids or pets left in cars at almost any temperature.
Hyperthermia Symptoms in Humans
Those suffering from heat-related illness will exhibit:
- Elevated body temperature
- Muscle cramps
- Coma, in serious cases
Pet Deaths and Hot Vehicles
Along with kids, animals are also more susceptible to heat and hyperthermia than adults.
A dog’s normal temperature runs between 101 to 102.5 degrees. This means there is very little room for temperature spiking before it affects your pet.
According to the United Animal Nations, “Exposure to excessive heat causes the [animal's] body’s cells to stop working properly and release dangerous chemicals, which can lead to nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage and even death. Essentially, all of the dog’s organ systems shut down at once.”
Signs of heat-related illness in dogs include:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing
- Collapse or loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
What to Do
Don’t leave your child or pet locked in a car ever, even on cool days. Also, cracking the window doesn’t make a significant difference in regulating the temperature in a car.
If you see a child or pet locked in a car:
- Try to open the car door and extract the child or pet
- Call 911 immediately
- Try to locate the parent/owner in a nearby store or facility