The weather’s heating up, so it’s a good time for an important safety reminder. Don’t leave your children or pets in a parked car.
Since 1998, more than 700 children have died after being left in hot cars. In California alone, 45 children died between 1998 and 2016.
Most people underestimate how quickly a parked car can heat up.
According to research conducted by the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, the interior of a parked car heats up an average of 19 degrees in only 10 minutes, and cracking a window does very little to help. When it’s 80 degrees outside, a parked car can reach 123 degrees inside.
It doesn’t need to be that hot to be deadly. Even on a day when the temperature only reaches 66 degrees, the inside of a car can get hot enough to kill a baby — as one mother learned firsthand when tragedy struck.
Hot temperatures are equally dangerous for dogs and other pets.
Protect your children and pets.
To keep your children and pets safe in warm weather, do not leave them in parked vehicles, even with the windows cracked, even if you don’t expect to be gone very long. A quick run into the bank or grocery store can easily take more than ten minutes, especially if there’s a line. That’s plenty of time for the temperature inside your car to rise dangerously.
Parents also need to be careful not to forget infants inside a car. It may sound impossible, but it can happen to parents – even loving, responsible ones – when they are busy and tired, especially if their normal routine is altered.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than half of children who died in a parked car were forgotten there by the caregiver. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you. Place your belongings in the backseat to help make sure you look back there, have your daycare call you if your child isn’t dropped off at the normal time and leave notes to remind yourself.
If you see a child or pet in a hot car, please help. You may save a life.
According to the NHTSA, if you see a child in a hot car, assess whether the child seems okay and responsive. If the child seems fine for the moment, try to contact the parents first. If the child is not okay, call 911 immediately. Break a window if necessary to help the child.
You should also take action to help pets. A new California law protects people who break car windows in order to rescue animals trapped inside.
Before you start shattering glass to help an animal, take a few steps to make sure the law will be on your side. First, assess the situation to determine whether the animal needs help. If it does, check whether the doors are open and try to find the owner. If you decide forcible entry is required, call the police, the fire department or animal control before breaking a window. You’ll need to stay with the animal until help arrives.