Editorial: Don’t leave children, animals in hot vehicles

Published 8:50 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As temperatures rise with the onset of summer, it is critical to remember the dangers of leaving children and animals in hot vehicles.

According to the National Weather Service, one of the most dangerous things you can do is to leave a child or a pet inside a parked vehicle with the air conditioner turned off.

The average number of U.S. child hot car deaths is 38 per year (one every nine days, according to kidsandcars.org).

Email newsletter signup

According to the website, 88 percent of children who have died in a hot car are age 3 and younger.

Sixty-nine percent of children who get into vehicles on their own are male, and most are age 1-4.

To illustrate how quickly temperatures can climb inside of a car, the La Crosse National Weather Service conducted an experiment in 2006 with a parked car.

The car was dark in color, had untinted windows and was parked facing south with a sunny sky. The temperature that day ranged between 91 and 95 degrees during the time the experiment was completed.

The person conducting the experiment ran the air conditioner in the car until the interior reached 82 degrees. A digital thermometer was put in the back seat, and then the air conditioner was turned off.

Temperature readings were taken every 10 minutes.

The temperature increased from 83 to 100 degrees in 30 minutes, to 110 degrees after an hour and steadily climbed to 124 degrees in two hours.

The Weather Service stated conditions can get deadly relatively quick, so people should never take a chance — especially with children, pets or the elderly.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cracking a window open and parking in the shade aren’t sufficient safeguards, and even if it’s in the 60s outside, a car can still heat up to above 110 degrees.

Don’t risk it.

The following are some tips available to make sure children cannot get into a parked car:

• Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.

• Never leave car keys within reach of children.

• Use childproofing knob covers and door alarms to prevent children from exiting your home unnoticed.

• Teach children to honk the horn or turn on hazard lights if they become stuck inside a car.

• If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area carefully, even if they’re locked.