Vehicular heatstroke risk heightens as temperatures rise

AAA recommends never leaving children or animals unattended in a car, not even for a short period of time. Metro News Service photo
AAA recommends never leaving children or animals unattended in a car, not even for a short period of time. Metro News Service photo

Credit: unknown

Credit: unknown

With hot temperatures in the forecast in the coming days and weeks, AAA East Central advises parents, caregivers, and pet owners to be especially vigilant about keeping children and pets safe from vehicular heatstroke. Sunshine streaming through car windows turns the vehicle into an oven, and lowering the windows slightly is ineffective at keeping the temperature low. In fact, even with temperatures as low as 57 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 125 degrees in minutes.

“Heatstroke is a problem that children face in particular because their bodies are more sensitive to rising temperatures,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “Children and pets need our attention to keep them safe from these completely avoidable tragedies.”

Heat rapidly overwhelms the body’s ability to regulate temperature, and children under the age of four are especially vulnerable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s, and when left in a hot vehicle, a child could die within minutes.

While automakers continue developing new safety features to assist parents, AAA offers the following safety tips:

  • Never leave children or animals unattended in a car, not even for a short period of time.
  • Create reminders and habits, such as leaving an item needed at your next stop in the back seat.
  • 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, to prevent children from climbing into vehicles and becoming trapped.
  • Never leave keys and/or remote openers within the reach of children.

If you come across a vehicle that has been left unattended with a child or pet inside, take action immediately. Call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.