Hot Cars Kill

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat kills.

Temperatures have reached dangerous levels, approaching 100 degrees, with a heat index of well over 100.

Make certain not to lock children, the elderly, or pet, in cars.

Not anybody.

No living creature.

Even for just a few minutes.

Even with the windows rolled down a few inches.

Temperatures inside a car can climb about 20 degrees every three minutes.

“Think of your car just like your kitchen oven, where temperatures rise very quickly,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that temperatures inside of a car can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes and to 125 degrees in six to eight minutes. With temperatures rising at the rate of about 20 degrees every three minutes, it is easy to see how a seemingly quick stop can very quickly turn disastrous.”

Tragically, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being left inside motor vehicles. “It is critical that motorists are uncompromising on this issue and simply make a habit of never taking any chances by leaving children or others in hot cars. A minute or two can be deadly and can also easily turn into five to ten minutes if you run into a friend or there is a line at the check-out,” added Meade.

Even with a window rolled down a few inches, if outside temperatures are even in the low 80s the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only ten minutes.

The NHTSA reports that children's bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses.

Children's bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult and are also less able to lower their body heat by sweating, causing the body's temperature to rise rapidly.

When left in a hot vehicle, a young child's body temperature may increase three to five times faster than an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury and even death.

If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If the child is in distress due to heat, call 911 and get them out as quickly as possible.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, recommends the following helpful hints for motorists:

Keep bottled water in your vehicle for all living beings, including pets.

Before entering a vehicle that has been parked in high temperatures, open the vehicle's door and let the interior cool off for a few minutes.

Use a sun shield to minimize heat build-up inside your motor vehicle.

Cover metal and plastic parts on safety belts and child safety seats to prevent burns.

Use and check your air conditioner.

And always have a fully charged cell phone, if possible, to call for help in case of a breakdown.