The Dangers of Extreme Heat: Kids, Dogs and Hot Cars

July 7th, 2015 by

baby in a hot car

Prevent Summer Tragedy by Keeping these Facts in Mind

When it’s hot outside, it’s even worse inside your parked vehicle. Every year we hear sad stories of babies, young children and dogs left alone in vehicles that quickly heat up and cause distress, dangerous situations and even death in some cases.

On a typical summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can exceed 50 degrees Celsius (that’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit), in less than 10 minutes.

Opening the windows does not prevent a vehicle from reaching these temperatures in minutes. Anyone – especially a child or a dog – can end up in extreme distress quickly. Infants and small children are far more sensitive to heat than adults. A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult’s.

And don’t think that, “It’s only for a few minutes” because 80% of the temperature increase inside a vehicle happens in the first 10 minutes.

Steps to prevent overheating a child:

  • Never, ever leave a child alone in a car.
  • Always keep vehicle doors and trunks locked, and stash keys out of reach of any little ones.
  • People do get distracted sometimes. When you arrive at your destination, get all infants and kids out of the vehicle before doing anything else.
  • Air out your car if it has been sitting in the heat. Make sure to check the buckles too – they can get really hot!
  • Always make sure you have plenty of water within reach in your vehicle when travelling with kids and pets.

Back seat reminders: Don’t forget the baby!

  • Put a teddy bear in your child’s car seat. When you put your child in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. Seeing it there should remind you that your baby is still in the car with you.
  • Put your cell phone, purse or other items you’ll need when you arrive at your destination out of reach on the floor in the back seat. This will remind you to check on your child.

Saving a dog from a hot car:

  • If you see a dog left in a hot car, go to the nearest public establishment and have them page the owner with the vehicle description, colour and license plate. If there is no response, call the local Humane Society or police.
  • Please don’t immediately start smashing windows! Check to see if the dog appears to be in distress. If the owners have not returned within a few minutes, have someone else assess the dog. If you both agree that the animal is in trouble, then it’s time to take action. Now you also have a witness if you are going to damage the vehicle. Also, go to your weather app and take a screenshot of the current temperature.
  • Symptoms of heatstroke include, but are not limited to, a lack of coordination, restlessness, heavy panting, thick saliva, vomiting and diarrhea. If the dog is showing any of these symptoms, you need to get them out of the vehicle.
  • Once you have the dog out of the vehicle, get them somewhere air-conditioned and provide cool (not cold) water to drink, and you can wet their body down, starting with the paws.
  • Prevent this from happening to you. Do not run errands when your pet is in the vehicle! Take them home first and then go back out if you have stops to make. Or leave your pet at home in the first place.
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