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Public Safety: How Hot Is It Inside Your Car?

By Lisa M. Grisham, CPSTI

Do you know how hot the inside of a vehicle can get? When asked to guess based on an outside temperature of 80 degrees, the answers ranged from 92-121 degrees. But the temperature was well over 140 degrees. Vehicles heat up much faster than you may think. The temperature can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes, even with the windows cracked. 


For children and pets, this can be deadly. Sadly, a child dies about every 10 days from vehicular heatstroke. And an estimated 1,800-2,000 animals die in hot cars per year. Children’s bodies can heat up 3-5 times faster than adults’ bodies. And elderly animals or those with health issues overheat much faster, too. 


To help prevent heatstroke, remember A.C.T.

  • Avoid heatstroke.
  • Create reminders.
  • Take action. 


Avoiding heatstroke is as simple as never leaving your child or pet in the car — not even for a minute. Make this your rule of thumb. Even if you are just running into the store for one item, take your child with you. Make a plan with your daycare so that if your child is late, you’ll be called within a few minutes. 


Creating reminders helps with busy days or times when your schedule might have changed from your normal routine. More than half of reported heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot their child was in the car. 


Some examples of reminders would be leaving your purse, briefcase, cellphone, or even one of your shoes in the back seat with your baby or pet. Some navigation apps have features that send reminders to drivers once they reach their destinations. There are even applications built into some cars and car seats as well as devices that can be purchased to add to your vehicle or your child’s safety seat to remind you to check before you leave. 


Take action means if you notice a baby, child, or pet left in a car — call 911 immediately. Time is of the essence. Emergency personnel are trained to direct you about what to do. It is not advised to break a window without advice from a 911 operator. 


It is also important to remember to lock your vehicle — even if you park inside your garage. Children are curious and may climb into your car to check it out or hide. But once they get in the car, they often can’t figure out how to get out. Locking your vehicle will keep this from happening. Teach children that a car is not a place to play, and that trunks are for transporting cargo. If a child goes missing, seek help and check vehicles and swimming pools first.


Vehicular heatstroke is 100% preventable. Don’t let a tragedy like this happen to your family. For more information, visit Safe Kids Cherokee County is led by Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services.