Firefighters find all tragedies heartbreaking and of those, the most heartbreaking are tragedies that are preventable. That is the case every year when loved ones are left in a hot vehicle. Whether it’s an adult, child or pet, the results can be catastrophic.
Even on cool, mild days, temperatures inside a car can reach dangerous levels. On a 72 degree day, temperatures inside a car can reach 116 degrees within an hour. On an 80 degree day, temps can rise to 99 degrees inside in just 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes. Studies also show that leaving a window gap does little to lower the temperature inside the vehicle.
Let’s begin with children. According to the National Safety Council, 52 children died in hot cars in 2018 and almost 800 have died since 1998. The next figure is just as scary…almost 54% died because the adult simply forgot the child was in the car. The primary cause of death for children is Heat stroke. The body’s temperature surpasses 104 degrees Fahrenheit and may cause symptoms such as dizziness, disorientation, confusion seizures, loss of consciousness and death. Children are simply not able to regulate body temperature as well as an adult due to a still developing brain.
Pets (especially dogs) can only handle extreme temperatures for so long due to their inability to sweat. Officials with Red Rover, a dog advocacy group, say excessive heat causes dog’s cells to stop working properly and can lead to problems such as nerve damage, heart problems, brain damage and death.
So what can be done? The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine. Avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child in a car. They recommend placing a purse, briefcase, or even a shoe next to the child to help you remember they’re in the back seat. Also, keep your cars doors locked so children cannot enter the car without your knowledge.
So please look out for your loved ones. Whether they have skin or fur, they’re looking at you to as their guardian. Here’s to hoping that this summer season is enjoyable for all.