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A Reminder of the Fatal Risk of Hot Cars to Children and Pets

Posted by Jordan Travis | Jun 26, 2023

Warmer temperatures are setting in across Colorado and the country. This is a reminder to drivers to always check the back seat when walking away from their vehicle.

According to NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman, "Every year, 38 children lose their lives in hot cars, and these are tragedies that can be prevented..." (NHTSA, 2023).

Even with windows cracked and being parked in a shaded area, temperatures as low as 57 degrees can cause hot car deaths. Children's bodies warm five times faster than adult bodies, so injury or death can happen very quickly in a hot car.

To keep a children safe make sure to do the following:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even if you think you'll be gone for only a minute;
    • Rolling down windows does not do much to keep a vehicle cool.
    • Heatstroke can happen even on a relatively cool day.
      • Symptoms of heatstroke include: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103 degrees fahrenheit, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, and loss of consciousness. Call emergency services immediately if you notice any signs of heatstroke.
    • The inside of a vehicle can reach dangerous temperatures in as little as 10 minutes.
  • When you are driving with your child, always remember to look before you leave your vehicle to make sure your child has not been left behind in the car seat;
    • Put an item such as a purse, phone, wallet, etc. in the back seat as a reminder to turn around and check before exiting the vehicle.
  • Lock your car when you are not using it;
    • Children at play could access your vehicle if it is unlocked and the consequences could possibly prove to be tragic.
  • If you see a child in distress in a vehicle call emergency services immediately and get help.

Children's Health. 2023. "6 tips for preventing hot car deaths."

To keep pets safe make sure to know the following:

  • Overheating symptoms in pets include: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees fahrenheit. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke bring them to a veterinarian as soon as possible;
  • Animals with flat faces (such as Pugs) are more susceptible to heat stroke because they cannot pant as effectively;
  • Pets that are elderly, overweight and those with heart or lung disease should be kept in cool air-conditioned rooms as much as possible;
  • In Denver, Colorado, leaving an animal in a hot vehicle constitutes animal cruelty per Sec. 8-131 of the Denver County Ordinance, and could result in a fine of up to $999 and/or 1 year in jail;
  • As with children, always remember to look before you leave your vehicle to make sure your pet has not been left in the back seat;

ASPCA. 2018. "Dogs In Hot Cars and Other Summer Dangers."

About the Author

Jordan Travis

Jordan M. Travis - Jordan observed first-hand the practice of law while growing up in Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado Boulder, graduating #1 in his class, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a minor in Leadership. Jordan also attended the University of Colorado ...

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