A Friendly Reminder: Never Leave a Child or Dog in the Hot Car

Children and pets dying in hot cars is a significant public health problem. The good news is that we can prevent these fatal tragedies.

The recent death of a three-year-old in South Carolina has marked the sixth child to die in a hot car in the US this year. The little child’s guardian thought she dropped him off at the day center with her other children but that she didn’t notice that the boy didn’t go inside with them until later the same day.

Each year, on average, 38 children under 15 die from heatstroke after being left alone in an unattended vehicle. During 2018 and 2019., 78 pets suffered death in the same circumstances.

While nobody believes such a tragedy could happen to them, the truth is it happens even to the most loving, attentive, and caring guardians.

Heat Kills Quickly
Leaving a child or a pet alone in a motor vehicle can have disastrous consequences, even on a mild summer day, for a brief period, in the shade. In ten minutes, sometimes even less, the temperature in a closed car can reach dangerous levels.

While temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius causes heat exhaustion, heatstroke happens when the temperature rises above 40 degrees.

Kid’s bodies heat up much faster than adults. When enclosed in a hot vehicle, the child first loses body fluids and salts through sweating, resulting in heat exhaustion.

When heatstroke happens, the child can no longer sweat. Their body temperature rises to deadly levels, destroying the brain, liver, and kidneys, even leading to death.

A dog’s average temperature is about 39 degrees Celsius. It can endure a body temperature of 41 degrees only for a short time before severe brain damage or death happen.

How Do These Tragedies Occur
Although situations may vary significantly, various factors, such as fatigue, stress, or even a sudden change of routine, can contribute to caregivers unknowingly leaving a child in a locked car. More than half of heatstroke fatalities occur when a distracted caregiver forgets about a quiet child in the vehicle. Using car transportation services can be a safe and secure alternative in times of distress.

This summer, many parents will be returning to work with hybrid schedules. Due to the Coronavirus safety measures, some will be working from home on certain days and from their offices on others. Such changes in the routine are one of the most severe risk factors, and extra caution is necessary.

Furthermore, a quarter of vehicle heatstroke deaths happen when a child crawls inside an unlocked vehicle and becomes trapped. The new California law that came into effect at the beginning of this year grants people immunity from liability for damage to cars and trucks when rescuing children age six and younger trapped in hot cars.

How to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe?
The first step to keep your child or dog safe from such a tragedy is accepting a horrible truth. Under certain circumstances, an accident like this could happen to you and the beings you love.

If you accept such a fact, you’ll find it much easier to follow the precaution measures below:

  • Don’t leave children or animals in a vehicle unattended, not even for a very brief time.
  • Ensure all children have left the car after you park it or move on following your schedule.
  • Leave something you need at your next stops, such as your cell phone or laptop, at the backseat. This way you will look back and won’t forget about loved ones.
  • Always keep your car locked, even if it is on a driveway or in a garage.
  • Always check the inside of your car before you lock it.
  • Never leave remote openers or keys within reach of the children.
  • When you park, use a sun shield to cover the windshield. This way, you will minimize heat and protect the car’s interior.
  • Before you enter the parked car, open the doors and let the interior cool for a few minutes.
  • If you see an unattended child or a pet in a vehicle, always take action. Immediately dial 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
  • There are many other ways to keep your kids and loved ones healthy and safe during the summer months, especially if you’re planning a vacation.

Remember, even a pleasant 26 degrees outside is an accident waiting to happen inside a parked car. Be extra cautious and protect your loved ones.



Image Sources

  • Dog in car: Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels