As summer temperatures heat up, AAA East Central warns drivers about the dangers of leaving children and pets in vehicles. Temperatures inside a car, even on a mild, sunny day, can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
“Children should not be left in a car by an adult, or forgotten because of an adult’s distraction. If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately,” AAA East Central Safety Advisor Lori Cook explained.
Animals are equally impacted by summer heat. Dogs are not able to sweat like humans do, but instead cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paws. If they have only overheated air to breathe, they can collapse; suffer brain damage and die of heatstroke.
The National Highway Traffic Administration notes that children are particularly susceptible to heatstroke because their bodies can heat up five times faster than adults. Heatstroke deaths have been recorded in 11 months of the year in nearly all 50 states. More than half of heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot a quiet child was in the vehicle.
While you can’t control high heat, you do have some power to help protect you, your family, and your vehicle.
Never leave children or animals unattended in a car, not even for a short period of time. Outside air temperatures in the nineties can rise to 125 degrees inside the vehicle very quickly and can cause brain damage or death
Take action if you see an unattended child or pet in a vehicle. Dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions of emergency personnel
Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked
Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway
Never leave keys and/or remote openers within reach of children
When parked, use a sun shield to cover the windshield to minimize heat buildup and to help protect the car’s interior. Cover metal and plastic parts on seat belts and child safety seats to prevent burns
Open the vehicle’s doors and let the interior cool for a few minutes before entering
Remember to remove electronics such as cell phones, iPods, etc. from your vehicle, as the high heat can drain the batteries and possibly damage internal components.